Considerate and respectful love

1949 Among Travellers in France1949 Among Travellers in France

Damascus,1 September 1949

Love most of all the poor and those who are looked down upon. They are the living incarnations of Christ, the best loved, most cherished sheep of His flock. Love them just as they are, with their outer appearance of wretchedness or sin. It is this that most entitles them to your love. The Lord came not for the just but for sinners.

'Become one of them'. This means let contact with them enrich you, and get rid of the illusion that you always must have something to give. For this you must have a very open, very willing soul.

Love, real love, imposes many obligations, if you want to love as Christ Jesus loves. You must be ready to give your life for the littlest, the most wretched of His brothers or sisters, as Jesus Himself did. It is only by this sign that you may be recognised as His disciples and His friends.

Crossing the Mediterranean, July 1951

Love more and more the littlest of the poor, those the world rejects. Go out and look for the wretched, the condemned, the blameworthy who are ashamed and want to hide, wondering who ever could still offer them friendship or love. It is for this reason that we try to approach prisoners in the human distress of their prisons.

Algiers, 12 December 1951

I want you to believe that there can be genuine friendship and deep affection between people who are not of the same religion, the same race, the same social group. Perhaps you have not yet tried looking at them with these eyes yet, the eyes of a friend, or tried to love with this kind of a heart all those who are entrusted to you in North Africa, the Cameroons, the Near East and the shantytowns. Perhaps it is only from curiosity that you have looked at them to be able to describe them, analyse them, compare them with yourself. You would not try like that to catalogue the flaws and shortcomings of your father and your mother, your sister and your brother. And if someone else dared to do it, what pained indignation would well up in you and you would put that person quickly back in place.

Your love needs to grow, to deepen and to learn thoughtfulness. Generous love is easy to find, but considerate, respectful love for every being is a rarity. In each being is reflected the Face of the Lord. And how He must have suffered in His agony and His passion for all our lacks of considerateness and respect in love.

He said, "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40) .

The more "little" people are, the more our sisterly love must be respectful and considerate. May the Lord make your love for the "little ones" grow greater and greater.