“By loving the unlovable, You made me lovable.”
This profound statement of Saint Augustine
always stuck in my mind because it expresses
what Christianity is. It expresses what made
my life meaningful.
What saved me from running around in circles
in a futile search for happiness was this
love of God manifested in Jesus Christ. He
loved me when I was bad and mean. He never
despised me. He loved me a sinner. Everyone
expected more from me – more effort, more
virtue, more goodness… He no, He just loved
me. Somehow He understood my deep pain and
instead of demanding, He burdened himself
with my wickedness.
In his book ‘The Magnificent Defeat’, Frederick
Buechner, speaks about the four different
loves that exist.
There is the love for equals – the kind of
love a friend feels for a friend or a brother
for a brother. The world smiles at this love.
Then there is the philanthropic love – to
love the suffering, the poor, the sick. This
is compassion and it touches the heart of
There is yet another kind of love – to love
those who succeed when we fail, to rejoice
without envy with those who rejoice, to love
the rich when one is poor. This love bewilders
“And then there is the love for the enemy
- love for the one who does not love you
but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain.
The tortured one’s love for the torturer.
This is God’s love. It conquers the world.”
God loved me this way. God loves you this
Being loved by God, then everything becomes
possible. Why? Because divine love unites
us to God and makes us abide in Him as He
abides in us.
A nurse on the pediatric ward, before listening
to the little ones’ chests, would plug the
stethoscope into their ears and let them
listen to their own hearts. Their eyes would
always light up with wonder, but she never
got a reaction to equal five-year old Matthew’s
Gently she placed the stethoscope into his
ears and placed the disk over his heart and
asked him to listen. “What do you suppose
He became very thoughtful and puzzled as
if caught up in a mystery well beyond his
age. Tap…tap…tap… deep down in his chest.
Then his face broke out in a wondrous grin
and he uttered, “It must be Jesus inside
This is why He is able to do with us what
would be simply impossible otherwise.
This is why Jesus can dare command us, ‘Be
merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful’,
‘Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’,
‘Love one another as I have loved you’.
One might ask if love can be ‘commanded’.
It is a valid question answered by Pope Benedict
in his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est:
“Love can be ‘commanded’ because it has first
Friendship with God is all consuming. Divine
love inserts us into God’s movement of love
within the bosom of the Holy Trinity.
The consequences are enormous. Charity towards
neighbor becomes the fruit of this divine
dynamism within us. We stop using people.
We see them for what they are – objects of
God’s infinite love who merit nothing less
In spite of their faults or annoyances we
suddenly see in them the face of Jesus Christ,
perhaps disfigured, but yet the face of God!
This is a formation we all need. We need
to be educated to become Christ crucified,
to love without calculating the cost, to
react well when humbled… Many of us never
receive this training into Christianity.
I kept this letter that appeared in a newspaper
many years ago. The paper is faded and yet
what it says is still fresh. The reporter
published some counsels given him by his
grandmother who had died some 60 years prior,
and who had never attended school. She offered
it printed on a slip of paper, accompanied
by the words, “All the advice you’ll ever
need to have a good life”. Here is what she
“Wash what is dirty. Water what is dry. Heal
what is wounded. Warm what is cold. Guide
what goes off the road. Love people who are
least lovable, because they need it most.”
Enough days spent refreshing, healing, warming,
guiding and loving will add up to a good
life, meaningful and wortthwhile.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright