05 Editorial - Live Life Lovingly

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 6, 2018, 12:20 AM ]
Love’ is an often overused, misused, misunderstood word, which has, somehow, turned intrinsic to our daily conversations – ranging from the marvellous to the mundane – not necessarily in its true meaning, but often as an exaggeration of something we appreciate or like, be it persons or things.

If only we truly understood what love encompasses, we would realise that it is not just another word. Love has the power to transform perceptions, attitudes, behaviour; it transcends age, gender, and even species! Yes, love is powerful indeed.

The Christian concept of love is defined by God’s love for us which is the highest and the purest form. When this love is reciprocal – loving God through one another and all of Creation – we manifest God’s presence in the world.

In Matthew 22: 37-40, one learns this about life’s purpose. “And He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

Today, more than ever, we need to heed Jesus’ words. In a world increasingly governed by greed and selfishness, by individualism and power, by the culture of death, there is the very real absence of love. We are in the Season of Easter, and having been made aware of Christ’s love – He laid down His very life for us – we must be open to the understanding that love is altruistic. When we love like this, we are able to embrace everyone, and that includes those who are marginalised, different, even the unlovable and the enemy. What good is it if we love only those who will love us in return? Even the ungodly do as much! Love, then, is the cornerstone of our existence.

The recent judgment of the Supreme Court of India on passive euthanasia poses a challenge to this Christian understanding of love, which must necessarily include care and compassion for the ailing and elderly persons at the end of life. Those in favour of passive euthanasia claim that the decision to remove life-support systems or to "pull the plug" for terminally ill patients is morally justifiable, on the grounds that it is a caring and compassionate choice, and also a fundamental right. The taking of life is never a moral act. Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person, which includes nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth and basic medication, cannot be legitimately interrupted. For Christ’s followers, suffering has significant value: each one of us, in our suffering, can become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ – a suffering that had its roots in love. This means that we do not terminate life to terminate suffering. Rather, we must lovingly accompany the journey of those who suffer.

When we love like this, we begin to see God in all things, and not only those like us. Our love will extend to all of Creation and all that God has provided in our common home. We embrace life not just for ourselves, but for all – from the moment life is conceived till its natural end.

St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13:1-7), has given us this time-tested understanding: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

We were brought into being by God’s love for us. When we accept and share His all-encompassing love, we are vibrantly alive, and will, in turn, nurture all life with love.

Barthol Barretto, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay & Ecclesiastical Advisor, Diocesan Human Life Committee