Concreteness in Christian love

Pope Francis preaching at Casa Santa Marta

Vatican Radio reports that the Pope based his reflection on the words of the First Letter of John, in which the Apostle insists on repeating: “If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us”. The experience of faith, the Pope said, lies in this “double abiding”. “We are in God and God is in us: this is the Christian life. Do not abide in the spirit of this world , do not abide in superficiality, do not abide in idolatry, do not abide in vanity . No, no, abide in the Lord. And He reciprocates this: He abides in us. But first, He abides in us. Many times we chase Him away and we can not abide in Him.  It is the Spirit that abides”.

But “abiding in God’s love” is not so much an ecstasy of the heart, a nice thing to hear. “Look, the love of which John speaks is not the love of soap operas! No, it is another thing. Christian love always has one quality: concreteness. Christian love is real. Jesus Himself, when talking about love, talks to us about concrete things: feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and many concrete things. This is concrete love. Christian concreteness. Without this concreteness, one lives a Christianity of illusions, because the center of Jesus’ message is not clear. This love does not arrive at being concrete: it is an illusory love, like these illusions that the disciples had when watching Jesus , believing he was a ghost”.

And this concreteness is based on two criteria. “The first criterion: to love with deeds, not words. Words are swept away by the wind! They only exist in the here and now, not tomorrow. The second criterion of concreteness: in love it is more important to give than to receive. The person who loves gives and gives … gives things, gives life, gives his or herself to God and to others. Instead, those who do not love, those who are selfish, are always looking to receive, always looking to have things, to have advantages. Having an open heart, not that of the disciples, which was closed, they did not understand anything: Abiding in God as God abides in us, abiding in love”.

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