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If we say we love God but hate others we are liars
St John said, "If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen."(1 John 4:20 TEV)
Jesus tells us that God Himself “is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked” (Luke 6:35 NJB) and “makes His sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.” (Matthew 5:45 TEV) Jesus shows us His love even when we are difficult and unreasonable, abusive and manipulative, hot-tempered and resentful towards others. Jesus is able to love us in spite of these lousy traits in us because Jesus does not see us with normal human eyes. He sees us as Beloved children of God. We are precious to Jesus and are loved with an everlasting love by Him. Yet, we ourselves find it most difficult to love an abusive, or exacting, or unreasonable, or irritable, or hot-tempered or manipulative relative or friend or colleague. How to love them? Who wants to be close to them? They tend to become the unloved ones, the unwanted ones, and the uncared ones. Such individuals are undesirable. Some people literally hate them! But, as Christians, we are commanded to love everyone---and God.
Before we can come to love God, we want to know where God is to our human eyes. God makes it easy for us to know Him in Jesus. Jesus says: “The Father and I are one.”(John 10:30 TEV) “Whoever sees Me sees also Him who sent Me.”(John 12:45 TEV) St Paul says, “Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God.”(Colossians 1:15 TEV) When Jesus was questioned, “Where is your father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor my Father. If you knew Me, you would know my Father also.”(John 8:19 TEV)
Mother Teresa tells us how we can love God whom we have not seen:
“I don’t think we could have ever loved God if Jesus had not become one of us. So that we might be able to love God, He became one of us in all things, except sin. If we have been created in the image of God, then we have been created to love, because God is love.” (No Greater Love, 83)
“Where is God? We believe He is everywhere---He is the creator, He is everything. But where is He to my human eyes? To make it possible for me to see the face of God with my human eyes, He has made Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the lonely one and He says: ‘Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren you do it to Me.’ Gandhiji has said: ‘He who serves the poor serves God.’”(The Joy in Loving, 7 September)
Jesus, however, makes it easier for us to show love and kindness to others by assuring us very clearly that “Insofar as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me.”(Matthew 25:40 NJB) What Jesus is asking us to do is to see, with our spiritual eyes, that these individuals are also the Beloved children of God and that Jesus Himself is hidden under every possible guise in them.
But, how can we see Jesus as hiding Himself behind the unattractive guise of the irritable, the exacting or the unreasonable? How can we see Jesus hiding Himself behind the distressing guise of the unwanted, the unloved, the unemployed or the ignored? How can we see Jesus hiding Himself behind the unlikely guise of the poor, the sick, the AIDS patients, the prisoners? How can we see Jesus hiding Himself behind the depressing guise of the depressive, the fearful, or the mentally handicapped?
For us to be able to see Jesus in these unusual guises: we must still be able to recognize Jesus in the one who is unwanted, we must still be able to recognize Jesus in the one who suffers from depression, we must still be able to recognize Jesus in the AIDS patient who needs understanding and support, we must still be able to recognize Jesus in the homeless child looking for shelter. We need the eyes of deep, deep faith to be able to see Jesus in the face of the poor.
Mother Teresa prays:
“Dearest Lord, may I see you today and every day in the person of your sick, and, whilst nursing them, minister unto You. Though You hide Yourself behind the unattractive disguise of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I still recognize You, and say: ‘Jesus, my patient, how sweet it is to serve You.’” (A Gift for God, 87)
“Grant that, even if You are hidden under the unattractive disguise of angel of crime, or of madness, I may recognize You and say, ‘Jesus, You who suffer, how sweet it is to serve You.’” (No Greater Love, 183)
“Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our family, especially in their distressing disguise.” (Thirsting for God, December 1)
Mother Teresa says, “We are taught from the very first moment to discover Christ under the distressing disguise of the poor, the sick, the outcasts, Christ presents Himself to us under every disguise: the dying, the paralytic, the leper, the invalid, the orphan. It is faith that makes our work, which demands both special preparation and a special calling, easy or at least more bearable. Without faith, our work could become an obstacle for our religious life since we come across blasphemy, wickedness, and atheism at every turn.” (No Greater Love, 166)
“In your homes you have a starving Christ, a naked Christ, a homeless Christ. Are you capable of recognizing Him in your own homes? Do you realize that He is right there in your midst?”(“One Heart full of Love,” 21)
“Does each of you, before anything else, know the poor in your homes? Are you aware that in your own family, in your own living situation, there may be someone who is very lonely, who feels unloved or hurt? Are you aware of this? Maybe that lonely or hurt one is your own husband, your wife or your child, who is lonely at home, in the same home where you live. Are you aware of that?”(One Heart full of Love, 4)
“Bring love into your homes. If you truly love God, start loving your spouse, your son and your daughter. And the elderly, where are they? In nursing homes! Why are they not with you? And where is the retarded child? In an institution! Why is he not with you? That child, young mothers and fathers, is a gift from God.” (One Heart full of Love, 45)
But, how should the poor, the unwanted or the depressed be served? Mother Teresa says:
“We should not serve the poor like they were Jesus. We should serve the poor because they are Jesus.” (In My Own Words, 30)
“We are not social workers, we are not nurses, we are not teachers, we are religious. Mother insists on a point of cardinal importance, ‘I do not see the poor first, but Jesus. Jesus suffering in the poor, Jesus who said, ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty, I was naked, I was lonely, I was without shelter, I was abandoned by all... Whatever you did to the least of mine, you did it unto Me.’” (Mother Teresa--Messenger of God’s Love, 32)
“When Christ said: ‘I was hungry and you fed me,” He didn’t mean only the hunger for bread and for food; He also meant the hunger to be loved. Jesus himself experienced this loneliness. He came amongst His own and His own received Him not, and it hurt Him then and it has kept on hurting Him. The same hunger, the same loneliness, the same having no one to be accepted by and to be loved and wanted by. Every human being in that case resembles Christ in his loneliness; and that is the hardest part, that’s real hunger.” (A Gift for God, 38-39)
“Whether you are directly serving the poor or not, whenever you think of the poor and make sacrifices for them, you are really doing it to Christ.” (Loving Jesus, 105)
“Today, the same Christ is in people who are unwanted, unemployed, uncared for, hungry, naked, and homeless. They seem useless to the states and to society; nobody has time for them. It is you and I as Christians, worthy of the love of Christ if our love is true, who must find them, and help them; they are there for the finding.” (A Gift for God, 36)
“Once more, today and yesterday, Jesus comes to His own and His own refuse to welcome Him (John 1:11).
He comes in the broken bodies of the poor.
He also comes in the rich who are drowning in the loneliness of their own riches. He also comes in their lonely hearts, when there is no one to offer them love.” (In My Own Words, 37)
And “Because we cannot see Christ we cannot express our love to Him; but our neighbors we can always see, and we can each do for them what if we saw Him, we would like to do for Christ.” (A Gift for God, 36)
What all of us want to do is to express our love for Jesus. To do that, we have to show our care and concern for the lonely, the depressed, the sickly, the unemployed, the handicapped, or the fearful. Such loving kindnesses to the poor are an expression of our love for God put into practice here and now.
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