Two friends offered a lift to a young lady while driving to their home city. On their way, they talked about the city, their professions, their hopes and aspirations. The one driving the car was so entertained by the depth of the lady’s ideas, but her physical beauty attracted his friend more.
On arrival, they exchanged contacts and kept in touch with each other as friends. The one who appreciated her ideas called her severally, having found her wit and depth of ideas refreshing. The other person, attracted by her appearance, wanted to hang out and had several dates with the lady. The lady found favour in both friends but preferred the one with whom she went out, in part, because they spent more time together. But upon learning about the lady’s pre-existing health condition, this admirer avoided and despised her, whereas the other one kept in touch, and so became a source of support for her. She was deeply distressed by the attitude of the one she hitherto believed to be her favourite. She learnt the bitter lesson that love is not about making impressions; it is recognised in real actions. Love is manifested amidst the cross. It grows from the heart of sacrifice.
The readings today make a sharp distinction between true Christianity and a false one. It is because what we often claim to be Christian may turn out to be antichristian. In his epistle, Saint John kept emphasising the need to decipher what is real and what is fake among Christians. It is debatable whether every Christian possesses the spirit of Christ. This is why Saint John recommends we test every spirit. One could know the true spirit by how much love we have expressed. If love is the litmus test, does it mean that confessing love to another is enough evidence that one is of Christ? We know that love has been misconstrued variously to suit selfish ends.
When love focuses on the self in a way that makes one treat the other as an object, one would want to take advantage of others, and this is antichristian. But love is more about sharing than taking advantage because love is selfless and sacrificial. It is more about how we treat others than how we feel about them.
When we say we love, we are not doing so to impress the other for its pleasure. We are doing it to express the treasure that is the other, for we are created not to impress but to express. We express true love when we treat the other person’s weakness in a way that upholds his or her value. By so doing, we have been anointed like Christ to deliver good tidings to the poor, liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the captives in our time. Our love for God can be expressed in the way we treat and value one another. Our personal interests and biases may come in the way, but true love overcomes all feelings because it is an act, an expression of Godly value. I propose that LOVE is the most powerful four-lettered word, which implies: Letting Our Virtues Excel and Letting Our Vices Expire.