Only with God can we love our enemies

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

CHRIST was once asked by a scribe what the first of the commandments was. And his answer was clear: to love God with everything one has got and, without being asked what the second and complementarily great commandment was, he also said, it was to love one’s neighbor as oneself. (cfr. Mk 12,28-34)

To the credit of the scribe, he took this response of Christ well. “Well said, teacher,” he said. “You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

But we can ask, Is it really realistic and doable to love God with everything we have and to love everybody else, including the enemies, which in the end is what is meant by the word ‘neighbor,’ as ourselves?

Certainly, we have many reasons to have this kind of reaction. But Christ was clear about what we are commanded to do. Thus, if we have to believe and live out our faith, as we should, then despite what we may regard as a practical impossibility, we should just do as we are commanded.

We just have to understand also that we can only manage to follow that dual commandment if we truly are with God through Christ in the Spirit. He, after all, is the source, the power and the pattern of how this kind of love can take place.

So, the challenge to face and the task to do is how to immerse ourselves in God, practically identifying ourselves with him, since we are meant to be his image and likeness. Our true and ultimate dignity and identity is that of being children of God.

In other words, the fullness and perfection of our humanity is when we finally become like God which can only take place in heaven. But while here on earth, we just have to do our best to pursue that ideal.

To be sure, on God’s part, all the means are already made available. We are already given the doctrine of our faith so we would know what right and wrong are in our earthly pilgrimage. We are given the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, so we can truly be identified with Christ who is the pattern of our humanity. We have the Church and the accompaniment of angels, saints and holy people, etc.

On our part, we just have to learn to pray and to truly have a vital encounter with God, which is actually possible and doable, because God is already with us. Being our Creator who puts and keeps us in existence, he can never be absent from us. We just have to learn how to get in touch with him, for only then can we aspire to be in our ideal condition as man.

We have to understand that the commandment to love God with everything we have got is due to the fact that we are meant to be truly one with God. And it is the fullness of love that can do that.

Also, that we have to love everybody else, including our enemies, is due to the fact that everyone is an image and likeness of God. No matter how distorted that image is because of our misdeeds, that image of God in everyone of us will always be there.



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