It is a most beautiful and desired feeling: to love and be loved in return. However in this current cultural climate loves comes down to physical and bodily dimension, people are still yearning for deep mutual love. On the other hand to everyone who has experienced it, this love seems to be something fleeting. Many of our friendships have not survived with the passing time; everybody knows people whose marriages unfortunately fell apart. These events reinforce our belief, that long lasting love is something very difficult – or even impossible – to gain and keep.
There are many reasons that suggest that love seems to be unattainable. But I think there is a very basic one which is the mother of all others. This basic reason is our misunderstanding of love. The most common belief about love is that it’s a nice, uplifting and happy feeling. But when the feeling is gone, people say: “our love is gone, there’s nothing between us; it’s over”. Sometimes feelings of anger, disappointment or hatred damage previously arranged good relationships between friends, neighbours or members of the family. Feelings can make our lives happier, but sometimes they can also make them miserable.
Let me ask just one question: “Are you personally able to create a particular feeling within you? Can you hate me right now, at this moment?” We have very limited influence on our feelings. They are reactions of our minds to some happenings or circumstances in our mental environment. They come and go. Quite often they drive us, pushing us to take actions or sometimes to abandon actions.
In today’s gospel Jesus is asking us to love one another. But it doesn’t make any sense to ask us to do something that we simply are not able to do. We can’t arouse a positive feeling towards somebody who hurts or upsets us. That’s just impossible!
The commandment of Jesus appeals to our good will, not to our feelings. Love is a decision of good will; a decision to avoid doing evil things towards somebody and to always look for good for others. This decision is not disjointed from our feelings: it goes despite them. This understanding of love makes love possible and attainable: “by this love […] everyone will know that you are my disciples”.