By His Grace Mathews Mar Barnabas, Metropolitan of America
(Published in The Gregorion, May 2008 Edition)
Real love is unconditional and selfless. The person who has real love identifies himself or her-self completely with others. We are created in the image and the likeness of God (Gen. 1:27), which means that we are created with the ability to love. Also we are expected to grow to perfection in love, as we are asked to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect (St. Matt. 5:48). Hence our pri-mary duty is to understand what love is and to grow in love.
A good example of unconditional and selfless love is the love of the father of the prodigal son. When the son came back after wasting all the money, the father ran up to him and overwhelmed him with all kinds of blessings. He was given the best robe, ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. The fattened calf was killed for dinner. Also there was music and dancing. The father did not say any word about his disobedience or the wastage of money. He was only trying to console and strengthen his son in every way. Forgetting himself, the father completely iden-tified himself with the son. The father did not say anything about the future and no conditions were demanded. We may hope that this unconditional love of the father must have made a deep impression in the son and inspired him to follow his good example.
Another example of unconditional love is the love of the Good Samaritan. When he found the injured man on the road, he nursed him and took him to the inn risking his own life. He identified himself completely with the injured man and rendered all kinds of help without any ulterior motives or de-manding conditions.
Our Lord forgave those who crucified Him and prayed for them saying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (St. Lk. 23: 34). Our Lord promised paradise un-conditionally to the criminal who re-pented (St. Lk. 23:43).
Our Lord is forgiving us and blessing us in every way. What we have to do is only to open our hearts to Him. He is knocking at the doors of our hearts. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me” (Rev 3:20). Our Lord says, “Him that comes to me, I will in no-wise cast out.” (St. Jn. 6:37)
The same Lord full of unconditional love asks us to have the same love for others. He says, “This is my commandment that you love one another, as I have loved you” (St. Jn 15:12). Only when we have this self-less and unconditional love, we can have real and full heavenly bliss. Therefore, St. Paul says, “Let all that you do, be done in love”
(1 Cor.16: 14). Every moment in our lives has infinite potentialities. Let us then try to make the best use of every moment. The Holy Spirit is al-ways with us to help us to grow in love. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts, through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom. 5:5).