In today’s Gospel, Jesus does not say, “Love Jesus or love God as I have loved you”. No, he says:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

If we really love our brothers and sisters, including strangers and even enemies, we do not have to worry if we love God. But, if we do not love everyone unconditionally, then there is no other way I can claim to love Jesus. I need to love those God loves (with agape) and God loves every single person without exception, even the most wicked.

So I do not really have to worry and ask, “Is it a sin to do, say or think such a thing?” Or, “Does the Church allow me to do this?” Rather, let me ask this way: “When I do, say or think such and such, am I really a loving person?” In one way, to be a Christian is terribly simple. I do not need to study in a university or an institute of theology. If I really love people as Jesus loves me, I will definitely graduate – with honours!

In practice, of course, it is not always so easy. We need to learn slowly how to love people unconditionally. Our lower instincts and the prevailing culture around us think differently. Yet, we need to learn that the way of Jesus is in fact more in tune with our deeper nature. It is more human to be loving than hating (yet we often excuse our outbursts or anger or hatred as being ‘only human’). Deep down, we all want to love people. We do not like to hate people, and hating does terrible things to our minds and our bodies. We like people to be our friends and do not like them to be our enemies.

Yet, because of our past experiences, the influence of family and other people around us, the pressures of our society and our traditions, we often do not know how to love, do not know how to forgive, do not know how to be reconciled.

‘Based on content copyright of Sacred Space, used with permission’