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«A Call to Love and to be loved»

Edwin Ritesh Dungdung
12th March 2018
Edwin Ritesh Dungdung

Introduction - Amo ergo sum

Jesus synthesizes the Torah in just two commandments “love your God and love
your neighbor.” We can see this as the synthesis of his theology and his ethics,
as the first commandment concerns our relation with God and the second our
relationship with our neighbor. In the Old Testament there are different kinds of
loves: a love of persons and things through covenant, faithfulness, friendship
and romantic love. In the New Testament, the word agape, has different
meanings: love for God, neighbor, friends, but also enemies, sinners. On one
hand some say that love is an emotion, on the other hand some deny this saying
it is not just emotion but a decision. For us Christians, loving your neighbor as
yourself requires us to love ourselves but then again Christian love would forbid
self-love. Love for God is the most important but without the love of neighbor it
is nothing. There is also call for loving equally all human beings but still one
cannot deny the existence of special love for friends and family. Thus there
seems to be a lot of contradictions in the understanding of the concept of love.
One of the ways to look at it is on the lines of human existence: I love therefore
I am.
The Cartesian formula of Cogito ergo sum does not suffice for one’s
existence. Human being needs more than just thinking; needs love in order to
exist. Why is the question of love so important in our life? Love always had a
special place from the point of view of life and of philosophy. Even the word
philosophy means love of wisdom. In modern philosophy, love is reduced to a
secondary place with respect to rationality and conscience. Only later Freud
brought love in the center, one of his popular saying is that all that matters is
love and work. Love is the deepest of human desires and it characterizes us as
human beings. The need to be loved and to love is what we long for and this is
what underlines our existence. The experience of love defines our existence.
The famous example for this is that when we love another person, he/she
becomes the center of the our world. Everything else no longer makes sense.
Without love we are nothing but dead. The encyclical of Benedict XVI, Deus
caritas est, stresses that God is love. If our existence depends on God and God
is love then we exist because of love. Jesus Christ incarnated to manifest this
love to us. In Jesus we find that the description of love in words alone is not
enough it ought to be practiced in deeds. So the love of God must be manifested
in love of neighbor.
God and Neighbor
God is love and the essence of the Torah according to Jesus is summed up in the
double command of the love of God and neighbor. Patricia and Wadell speak of
God as Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The holy Trinity is “an
intimate partnership of love – an ongoing dance of love – in which love is
Edwin Ritesh Dungdung

forever perfectly given and received.”1 God is the perfection of intimacy and
communion that is itself the fullness of joy. And they refer to St. Thomas
Aquinas to understand the concept of neighbors, we are all neighbors as we are
all joined in love of God, charity makes us neighbors of everyone. 2 Putting
others in the center of our life we are called to love, but not without loving
ourselves at first place. Love is a feeling, an attitude, a will and a decision that
requires life and action. Nothing can replace acts of love. Love is necessarily a
plural because there are various types of love: parenting, affection, charitable,
religious etc. Love has generally been considered as one’s attitude towards
another rather than as a relationship between two people. Indeed, the reality of
love requires the otherness and is not based just on attitudes. In addition, love
by its nature requires reciprocity, mutuality. Thus we need the other for the act
of love. We see God as the Other when we speak of his transcendental aspect,
but he is also in us as love, as in his immanent aspect. The immanent aspect of
God makes us all neighbors to each other without denying our uniqueness
which marks the otherness as a requirement for love, for relationships.
Human Relationship and Human Growth
Human relationships are very important for human growth and personal growth
of a person inspires and encourages him or her to get into relation with the
other. A person’s maturity is seen when one is ready to relate with the others.
Good relationships help us live the best human experiences. However, today it
is difficult to find such relationships; there is a lot of distrust. The other is
always full of suspicion. We find a lot of broken families, broken relationships,
broken human beings who have lost their trust to the extent that they cannot
even believe in themselves. Most of the time, this mistrust has been triggered by
the wrong relationship. Kevin J. O’Neil, C.SS.R. in “Forming Right
Relationships” focuses his attention on the close link between love of God, love
of neighbor and love of self. The author writes that the relationality is
fundamental to the human existence and human friendship is the paradigm for
right relationships.3
Human relationship as in human friendship is also a paradigm we use for
understanding the meaning of Scriptures. It is also a looking glass for the
Christian values. Jesus calls his disciples friends stressing on the Christian
concept of friendship. God is a person in the Holy Trinity and he communicates
loving relationship in Jesus. Man being a person in the image of God finds his
happiness and ultimate meaning in a right relationship with the neighbors and

1 Patricia Lamoureux and Paul J. Wadell The Christian Moral Life: Faithful Discipleship
for a Global Society (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010), 181.
2 Lamoureux and Wadell The Christian Moral Life, 183.
3 Kevin J. O’Neil, C.SS.R. “Forming Right Relationships” Spirituality and Morality:
Integrating Prayer and Action Ed. Dennis Joseph Billy, Donna L. Orsuto, (Paulist Press,
1996), 98.
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God. God is relational and God created a relational universe and relational
people. God affects creatures in various ways. He is active in the relationship
with others. He relates to us. We relate to God.
Christian life and Responsibility
The greatest commandment of love is the center of Christian life. Germain
Grisez in his book The Way of The Lord, Volume 2: Living A Christian life
discusses the Christian responsibility of loving others. Jesus’ commandment
loving the neighbor and the enemies, is a call to love every human person. It is a
call to seek reconciliation with the people who are not just to us. Christian loves
needs to exceed all the boundaries and reach to all people, beyond class, race,
and nationality and beyond business interest. Grisez talks about justice whose
principles are moral rectitude and fairness. Rights are the consequences of
justice. The call to be Christian is not just following Christ individually but with
the community and here come the communal responsibilities generated by
moral principles and the common good takes priority over the good of each
person individually.4 In today’s context, the love in Christian sense as the call of
social responsibility is marred by various currents of individualism, capitalism
Grisez writes about the integration of social responsibility in the Christian
vocation. As the humanity, we are one family in the world, but we can see the
diversity in the world. Diversity is not only with regard to each one’s
uniqueness but also with regard to the standard of life each one has. A vast
difference in the world of the privileged and the deprived, yet Grisez being
optimist speaks “love unites persons in communion while perfecting each … in
his or her own distinct person-hood.”5 Seeing the disparity, diversity, and
difference in the world one can take to account the teaching of Jesus that one
should love one’s neighbor as oneself which calls for sharing and caring for
others as one cares for oneself. The love for the neighbor requires being
volitional rather than emotional6 so in the context of the today’s world, one is
supposed to act not just because the pain of the other touches his or her heart but
before one gets the pain. The call is to be ready and willing to help the other and
in no circumstance harm the other, neither by overconsumption, nor by pride,
nor by avarice, nor by pleasure-seeking.7
The deeper meaning of love for the neighbor is concreted in the
sacrament of Eucharist; we are united with Jesus and with his Father and the
Holy Spirit, and we are united in Jesus to become one flesh with others. Thus

4 Germain Gabriel Grisez, The way of the Lord Jesus, II: Living A Christian Life
(Franciscan Herald Press, 1997), 305.
5 Grisez, The way of the Lord Jesus, II, 306
6 Ibid., 307
7 Ibid.
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we hope to live in a union not only with “the divine persons but also with other
human persons.”8 Thus the sharing of the body and blood of Christ in the
Eucharist should inspire us to share our own body and blood with the others.
And this sharing should go beyond the boundaries of religion, race and region to
the entire humanity. One of the elements of Christian love which we should talk
about is the Liturgical invitation of love in our life. Often the grace and the love
we receive in our contact with the divine in the Eucharist remains with us like
the talents buried, it dies off. We need to go out and share what we receive.
Love and being loved are the essential part of our human existence, but to stop
after being loved does not complete our being. Therefore we must move from I
exist because I am loved (which we experience in the mystery of Christ) to I
exist because I love (which will bring the kingdom of God to its fullness).
The Kingdom of God: The Kingdom of Love
What does this kingdom of God mean? If God is love, it should mean the
kingdom of love and this becomes a reality when everyone starts loving.
According to Walter Kasper Jesus’ message about the coming of Kingdom of
God is God’s firm and final offer and demands a decision on the part of the
human. The offer is left to man’s free choice; it makes the present situation the
eschatological situation of choice. When it was rejected by Israel as a whole,
God did not withdraw the promise made once and for all, but he now took a
different course to achieve his aim of establishing his Kingdom. Jesus’ message
about the coming of the Kingdom of God contains a promise; it creates a hope
which is still unfulfilled after the message has been proclaimed. The hope will
not be fulfilled until God is finally all in all.9
Kasper writes that God’s divinity consists in the power of his love. He
can give himself without losing himself. He is himself precisely when he enters
into that which is other than himself. It is by surrendering himself that he shows
his divinity. It is easy to see how in the ideas of the Kingdom of God in Jesus’
message transform the image of God and also how they give new relevance to
the idea of creation. The belief that the world is a creative means that an
adequate source of its existence and nature does not lie within itself. It means
that the world is nothing in itself but depends totally on God, that it owes its
being completely and utterly to God’s generous love. In other words, love is not
only the ultimate meaning but also the origin of all reality. But that source is not
just there. Love does not exist in vague. It is constantly appearing in new forms
and is constantly on the way. It is constantly reasserting itself in the face of
egotism and selfishness. Jesus’ message of the coming of God’s Kingdom in

8 Grisez, The way of the Lord Jesus, II, 308.

9 Walter Kasper, Jesus the Christ (T & T Clark, 2011), 78.
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love means that the ultimate source and meaning of all reality is now becoming
reality in a new and final form.10
The coming of love of God in power in and through human beings
is the salvation of the Kingdom of God. Love is the new start. It is the visible
presence of salvation. Kasper insists that the all-surpassing love of God makes
itself felt in the acceptance of human beings by each other, in the dismantling of
prejudices and social barriers, in new unrestricted communication among men,
in brotherly warmth and the sharing of sadness and joy. The marks of this new
creation are life, freedom, peace, reconciliation, and love. Love reveals itself as
the meaning of life. The world and man find fulfillment only in love. Love is the
answer to the search for a just and human world. 11 Love is the fullness of a man
and the world. Only love can complete us.
In the New Testament the world used for love is agape. Vincent MacNamara
proposes agape to be a concern for all human beings – including oneself – a
disposition to seek their good and an active engagement to promote that.12
Christian Morality, like any moral system, is built around one or more
virtues. In the Christianity, the virtues, conventionally, have been listed as
seven. These seven virtues consist of four natural virtues and the three
theological virtues. Natural virtues can be acquired through human efforts, but
theological virtues arise as special gifts from God. The natural virtues are
prudence, temperance, courage, and justice. Christianity added the three
theological virtues, faith, hope, and love(agape). These three were originally
introduced by Paul, who not only distinguished them as specifically Christian
virtues but also individualized love as the main one among these three: “And
now there remain faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of them is
love”(1 Cor 13:13). In this way, love in Christianity becomes the pattern of
regulation, and when there is a conflict of duties, love must be given priority.
According to MacNamara, agape is a high ideal of love. As we find “in Paul it
is the whole kerygma that forms the basis of the demand, it is the whole story of
the loving initiative of God in our regard.” 13 Agape-love is the basis of Christian
ethics as it is “seen as a response to the very nature of God in his redemptive
activity: it arises out of gratitude for God’s grace”14.
For Christianity, morality is a matter of revelation and discovery which in
terms of love is the act of being loved and the act of love. In the act of loving, in

10 Kasper, Jesus the Christ, 83.

11 ibid., 86-87.
12 Vincent MacNamara, Love, Law and Christian Life: Basic attitudes of Christian
morality. (M. Glazier, 1988), 62.
13 MacNamara, Love, Law and Christian Life, 64.
14 ibid.
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agape, we are called to appreciate the other. This appreciation of the other must
lead us to treat others equally and impartially with ourselves as the golden rule
would call of us, Do unto others as you want others to do to you. Here we
should be able to realize that the other is no way a means for us neither is
subordinated to us. This is a call for a reawakening, for a conversion. Agape
calls us to be free from self-centeredness in order to have feelings thoughts and
readiness for others. It demands from us “sympathy, sensitivity, and
imagination.”15 We are called for the good of the others. MacNamara speaks of
the good as “some sense of well-being, wholeness, flourishing, fulfillment,
satisfaction.”16 This good is done in fraternal love. And it is God himself teaches
us about fraternal love.
Divine Love manifested in Jesus Christ
God manifests his love and mercy to us in Jesus Christ conquering our hearts
with his love. It is God himself who taught us to meet, in the same way in which
he met us in Christ. Thus the Christ becomes the center of Christian love as
Dietrich Bonhoeffer stresses on “the basic unity of love of God and love of
neighbor as being a ‘Christological fact’.”17 We find fullness of our love only in
Jesus. As the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI Deus Caritas Est presents:
“Love of God and love of neighbor have become one: in the least of the
brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God.”18
We are created to love and to be loved. Yet this need for love is
continually despised by the deceptions that is everywhere in the life and history.
It is love given from above that enables us to love beyond all measure. This love
is the object of the good news. In Jesus, love of God and love of neighbor have
become one. Even the sacraments which are meant to unite us with the Lord
invite us to become united with our neighbor. Union with Christ is also union
with all those to whom he gives himself. Christ cannot be possessed only for
one; one becomes a part of Christ and finds all the others in him have become
part of him. Love of God and love of neighbor are now truly united: God
incarnate draws us all to himself.19 Eucharistic communion, includes the reality
both of being loved and of loving others in turn. Love of God and love of
neighbor are closely connected that loving God becomes a lie if we don’t love
our neighbor. Love of neighbor shown by Jesus consists in God and with God
loving the person without even liking or knowing. This needs an intimate

15 MacNamara, Love, Law and Christian Life, 69.

16 ibid., 70.
17 Jan De Jong,. A New Commandment: The Unity of Love of Neighbor and Love of God
in Recent Theology (Hales Corners, Wisconsin: Priests of the Sacred Heart, 1974), 23.
18 Benedict XVI, “Deus Caritas Est” Vatican: the Holy See. Vatican Website. Libreria
Editrice Vaticana, 2005. Web. accessed on 20 Jan. 2018, 15.
19 Deus Caritas Est, 14.
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encounter with God. Love of God and love of neighbor are thus inseparable,
they form a single commandment.
Conclusion: Caritas, The Practice of Love
In the second part of the encyclical(Deus Caritas Est, 19 - 42), Pope Benedict
XVI emphasizes, the practice of Caritas to form the community of love. The
charitable work of the Church is a manifestation of Trinitarian love. In many
parts of the world, the Church is known as a source of works in the process of
love that receives love from the Divine Trinity. The father in love gives his son
for the world. Jesus is the perfect example of the love that gives and gives itself
not only itself but the Holy Spirit as a gift. “The Spirit is indeed that inner
power that harmonizes their hearts with the Heart of Christ and moves them to
love their brethren as Christ loved them”20. The Spirit is also the energy that
transforms the heart of the Church to bear witness to the Father's love and work
for the unity of humanity in a family. So the church wants the integral good of
the human being by seeing the whole world as a family. This paves the way for
the understanding of charity as a responsibility of the church. Love for one’s
neighbor is rooted in the love of God and a responsibility for each member of
the faithful. As a community, the church must practice love. The koinonia
element in the community must help to eliminate the difference between rich
and poor. Social service should also be a ministry at the same time: a regulated
charity. It is also called for universal love that opens to the world outside the
family. Love will always be necessary, even in the just society. There will
always be situations of material need, in which help in the form of concrete
charity is indispensable. The Church is one of those living forces: it lives on
love, enlightened by the Spirit of Christ. This love not only provides people
with material help but refreshes and cares for their souls, which is often even
more necessary than material support.
Finally in the words of Benedict XVI we can say Love is possible, and we
can practice it, because we are created in the image of God, experiencing love
and thus bringing God’s light into the world in service. Serving others leads to
humility.21 I conclude with the words of Mother Teresa which she lived in the
practice of love.
The fruit of Silence is Prayer.
The fruit of Prayer is Faith
The fruit of Faith is Love.
The fruit of Love is Service.
The fruit of Service is Peace.

20 Deus Caritas Est, 19.

21 Deus Caritas Est, 35.
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BENEDICT XVI. “Deus Caritas Est” Vatican: the Holy See. Vatican Website. Libreria Editrice
Vaticana, 2005. Web. 20 Jan. 2018, Accessed.

DE JONG, JAN. A New Commandment: The Unity of Love of Neighbor and Love of God in
Recent Theology. Hales Corners, Wisconsin: Priests of the Sacred Heart, 1974.

GRISEZ, GERMAIN GABRIEL. The way of the Lord Jesus, II: Living A Christian Life.
Franciscan Herald Press, 1997.

KASPER WALTER. Jesus the Christ. T & T Clark, 2011.

LAMOUREUX, PATRICIA AND PAUL J. WADELL. The Christian Moral Life: Faithful
Discipleship for a Global Society. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010.

MACNAMARA, VINCENT. Love, Law and Christian Life: Basic Attitudes of Christian
Morality. M. Glazier, 1988.

O’NEIL, KEVIN J. C.SS.R. “Forming Right Relationships” Spirituality and Morality:

Integrating Prayer and Action. Ed. DENNIS JOSEPH BILLY AND DONNA L. ORSUTO.
Paulist Press, 1996.