We tend to use uniforms, badges and other things to tell others who we are. Students, especially in certain private schools put on a uniform to show which school they belong to – to be distinguished from other students of other schools. Soldiers and cops wear uniforms to show who they are and somehow one understands what their role is. We wear badges that show to which clubs we belong to and so on.
We Christians have our own distinctive mark, but we tend to have a problem in showing who we are and what we stand for. We ignore Jesus’ prescription because it is more than putting on a uniform or attaching a badge. It demands a lot because it is not in the way we dress but in the way we live. During his Last Supper with his disciples Jesus told them: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another... By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love is the Christian identity. Love is the Christian uniform. Love is the Christian distinctive mark. If you wear the uniform of love, you are fine, but if not, you have a problem.
We do not show our love simply by telling others: “I love you.” That phrase has been used and abused quite a lot. If you do not mean what you say, why say it? We show love to others:
- By how we behave towards them;
- By our sensitivity to their needs;
- By acknowledging and appreciating their talents;
- By being there for their needs, no matter what;
- By treating them as equal to us if not better;
- By never saying anything that might tarnish their reputation, even if it is true;
- By seeing Jesus in them, even in those we might consider them as enemies.
We are to be Christ’s witnesses to the people around us and our witnessing being effective is not based so much on how eloquent we are, but on how loving we are. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul tells us that no matter what we do, if we do not have love, we are nothing... it would be of no value to us.
We tend to place love and whatever challenges us at a distance. We are always willing to postpone good things, but we do bad things right away. We would like to postpone love, faith and hope, whereas we attend to fear, greed, envy and anger at once. The best thing that we have, St. Paul tells us, is love. We cannot keep postponing it. Deep down in our hearts we know that love is now or never.
What a world would it be if our love were to be as quick and as warm and as long-lasting as our hate!
Where love is concerned, many a time we look towards the future, but the future exists in our head and nowhere else. So do not tell me that you are going to start loving in the future. Tell me what you are doing now.
Who are we? What are we? We are what we are doing now. If we do not love others now, we are not loving persons and we have nothing to say about love. And if we have nothing to say about love... how can we love God? If we do not love now, we know nothing about God, as St. John tells us that if we do not love we do not know God because God is love.
Do you really know God?