Word of Life – Dec 2013

Chiara-60

This is an expression St.Paul uses frequently. He wishes for special graces for his communities and, at the same time, prays to the Lord for them

(see Eph 3:18, Phil 1:9).

Here he asks that the Thessalonians be granted the grace of an ever-more abundant mutual love. This is not meant to appear as a veiled reprimand, as if mutual love were not already a reality in their community. Rather, it is a reminder of a law that exists in the very nature of love, that is, its constant growth.

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.”

Love is the very center of Christian life. If it does not grow, the whole life of a Christian suffers the consequences by becoming weak and eventually dying out.

It is not enough to have understood in a moment of light what the commandment on love of neighbor means. It is not enough to have experienced, in a burst of enthusiasm, love’s impetus and zeal at the beginning of our conversion to a more Gospel-oriented life.

We need to make love grow by keeping it alive, active and concrete. This will happen if we make quick and generous use of the many opportunities offered to us each day.

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.”

St. Paul believes that Christian communities should have the same freshness and warmth of a real family. It is easy to understand, therefore, his eagerness to draw attention to the dangers that most threaten them: individualism, superficiality, mediocrity.

He wants them to avoid another serious danger as well: that of settling into a way of life which is orderly and peaceful, but narrow in its scope.

He wants communities that are open to others. It is typical of charity to love brothers and sisters who share the same faith and, at the same time, reach out to everyone, to be sensitive to the problems and needs of all. It is characteristic of love to build bridges with every person, recognize the positive, and unite one’s own hopes and efforts toward good with those of all people of goodwill.

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.”

How should we live the word of life this month? We, too, can try to increase mutual love in our families, in our places at work, in our communities and ecclesial associations, in our parishes and so on.

This word of life asks us to have an overflowing love, a love that surpasses the mediocre standards and barriers of our subtle selfishness. It is enough to think of just some of the aspects of charity (tolerance, understanding, mutual acceptance, patience, readiness to serve, mercy toward true or presumed shortcomings of our neighbor, sharing of material goods, etc.) to realize that there are many opportunities to put these words into practice.

Clearly such an atmosphere of mutual love in our community will not fail to radiate its warmth toward all others. Even those who do not yet know the Christian life will be attracted by it, and quite naturally, almost without realizing it, they will feel that they belong to the same family.