Christian love – Agape: Meditation for the 14th Sunday after the Trinity | The Guardian Nigeria News

The lesson for the day, as summarized in the Collection, is that love is paramount in the life and activities of a Christian. Everything he does without love is worthless and to live without love is to be dead. Love is the most excellent and the greatest path of all virtues. Love, here, is the translation from the Greek αγαπῃ (agapÄ“). Agape is marked by tolerance, which means patience, tolerance and restraint in the face of provocation. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, tolerance “is the quality of being patient and sympathetic towards others, especially when they have done something wrong.” This means that this love (agape) is unconditional and does not depend on the attitude or kindness of the recipient.

Agape is called Christian love. It is not because other English concepts of love are not Christian. For example, it is also the English word “love”, which also translates the Greek φιλος (philos), ήρος (Ä“ros) and στοργή (storgÄ“). Philos describes friendship, relationship and appreciation of worth and worth. Eros has to do with sexual attraction and relationship. And storge is about the family or natural affection such as a parent has for their child. Undoubtedly, these are also of God. But while they all represent love for the deserving and the wanted, agape goes the extra mile to love even the undeserving and the loathsome. Thus, it primarily reflects the love of Christ, who, while we were still sinners, died for us. In fact, almost all the time that Christians are enjoined to love in the New Testament, the word agape is used. It is both selfless and forgiving.

The Old Testament (Lev. 19: 33-37) is a legislative injunction for the practical demonstration of love. God’s people are to love and treat others as themselves, regardless of their relationship. Foreigners should be treated as natives (sons of the soil) and people should not be deceived.

In the epistle (1Cor. 13: 1-13), Paul developed “the most excellent way”, with which he ended the previous chapter, into a “hymn to love”. Three points should be noted in the hymn:
• Even spiritual gifts, which the Corinthians tell a lot about, are of no value if love is lacking.
• It is not something that goes for love. Love is a remarkable virtue with qualities that encompass the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is sacrificial and unconditional.
• Love is the ultimate and greatest of all virtues.

The Gospel (Lk 10: 25-37) is the parable of the Good Samaritan. The occasion was Jesus’ interaction with a lawyer. The question is a means to eternal life, and the agreed answer is love – for God and neighbor. It was in response to the jurist’s additional question as to who his neighbor is that Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. The relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was one of hostility. The Samaritans were so hated by the Jews that the lawyer may not have meant to mention “the Samaritan” and instead said “the one who showed mercy to him.”

The conventional understanding of a neighbor (which the lawyer had expected) is a person in his neighborhood, his friend and relative. But Jesus shows in the parable that being a neighbor is more than a friendship / family relationship or closeness. It is showing the love of God to all those in need, whoever they are, wherever they are. Jesus exposes the law of love. True love is put into action. It is not just a concept or a feeling.
Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, IFCM, CMC is the Rector of the Ibru International Ecumenical Center, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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