LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Word Alive–Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD May 15, 2022/5th EASTER

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Fr. Joseph Dau Vu, SVD, was a Catholic chaplain of the Vietnamese “boat people” refugees in Morong, Bataan. He related to me how he together with 55 compatriots slipped out of communist Saigon on an old, decrepit motorized boat and sailed to freedom.

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The “boat priest” reminisced with a tinge of sadness, “When fishermen from neighboring countries saw us, they attacked, robbed and exploited us. But when Filipino fishermen saw us, they gave food and welcomed us. Why are Filipinos different?” Fr. Dau Vu asked and answered: “It is because Filipinos are Christians.”

That Vietnamese priest’s comment is very heartening, a tribute to Filipinos for their compassion and hospitality. Indeed, Christianity that’s truly lived should make one more loving, more kind, more compassionate.

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To love as Christ loves is his explicit teaching in this 5th Easter Sunday gospel. At the Last Supper, Jesus said. “I give you a new commandment: Love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples” (Jn 13,34).

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What’s this “new love” Jesus refers? There are numerous kinds of love. Well known are the romantic, sexual, warm affection of married couples, parental love and others. What Jesus means is the selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications. This is close to the sacrificial love of a mother.

It should be noted that the passionate affection, the strong personal attachment of love fades away. Some wit said that a newly-married couple hold hands out of passionate love but years after, they hold hands…out of self-defense!

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In an article by an anonymous author entitled “What Is Christianity?”, it articulates Christian love in concrete terms, thus: “In the home it is kindness, in business it is honesty, in society it is courtesy, in work it is justice.

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“Toward the unfortunate it is pity; toward the weak it is help; toward the wicked it is resistance; toward the strong it is trust; toward the fortunate it is congratulations, toward the penitent it is forgiveness, toward God it is reverence and love.”

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The agape love of Jesus is not shown by mere words but by deeds. As one writer puts it: “They do not love those who do not SHOW it.” There are jobless husbands who shower their wives with sweet words, but it’s the wife who is the breadwinner.

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The real measure of spiritual growth and salvation is HOW we live up to Jesus’ command—“Love one another as I have loved you.”

There are three great virtues, St. Paul says: “Faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13,13).

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BY THE WAY. In wedding Masses, the gospel reading is: “Love one another.” However, the priest celebrant reminds the couple that it should not be, “Love another one!”

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