Why I Take the Risk of Loving Others
As a Christian, I am always encouraged to do my best in everything that I do, but most especially to be the best Christian I can be. This means putting my love for my neighbour above my love for myself.
If I love my neighbour, my neighbour will respond likewise and love me, and I gain a friend. But it is possible for my neighbour to respond differently, to repay my love with disdain, and this will make me feel ashamed.
It is this possibility of shame which hinders my Christianity and prevents me from loving.
And it’s not only this shame, it is also within my nature to desire that which is not ordered, a thorn in my flesh which always stands in the way of my goodness.
“I do not understand my own behaviour,” wonders St Paul, “I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate” (Rom 7:14-17).
Nevertheless, I am encouraged by Jesus Christ, by all the angels and saints, that persevering in goodness and in love—that persevering in being a Christian—is possible even in the face of shame, is possible even when my desires are disordered.
If they can do it, so can I, and it is God who, seeing my disordered desires and my willingness to do good, blesses me with the grace to achieve goodness.
In fact, my disordered desire is a challenge which I can not only overcome, but appreciate, for in humbling me it lifts me up.
At least that’s how St Paul looked at it, this same thorn in the flesh: “Wherefore, so that I should not get above myself, I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to batter me and prevent me from getting above myself” (2 Cor 12:7-9).
This is why I continue to love my neighbour at the risk of my love not being returned, for the value of earning a friend is greater than the risk of shame.
This is why I continue to will the good, regardless of my disordered desires, since the grace of God, promised to a humble and contrite heart, will carry me through.
Thus while we cooperate with the restrictions set before us as Christian communities in these crucial times, let us not be remiss in doing good.