We have been discussing ways in which we can live the spirituality of communion as found in Called to be community: a guide to living a spirituality of communion. Called to be community is a publication of Living City of the Focolare Movement. So far, we have discussed “God is love,” “the will of God,” “the word of life,“ and “the love of neighbor.” Today, we discuss the fifth point, which is “love one another.”
Jesus says to his disciples at the Last Supper, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35). Our love for one another as Christians should be the hallmark of the Church’s life. It is one of the most effective ways in which we can make Christ known in the world as the old song title says, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love.” Someone might object, saying, “We cannot make others love us.” This is true: we cannot make others love us. Love must be freely given. But if we are a part of the Church, Christ commands us to “love one another.” We do not wait for someone else to love first; we love first. If all of us are trying to love the other person first, we will eventually fulfill Christ’s commandment. Moreover, we will not only be making Christ known, we will also be growing in a spirituality of communion.
When I was pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Orleans, I oversaw the renovation of the attached priory, which is where my Dominican brothers and I lived. The renovation took a couple of years. It was challenging, because we were living in the priory while the renovation was going on. Dust was everywhere, and there were lots of other inconveniences. On top of that, I had my ideas about how the renovation should go, and my brothers each had theirs. Our tempers flared. We hardly spoke to one another at times, we were so mad at each other. But as time passed, we forgave one another and remained brothers in Christ and St. Dominic. I am glad love won out in the end.
Name a time when you and others lived Christ’s commandment of “love one another.” How did you feel? Share your experience with someone else.