“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another…..by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:34-35)
The Lord calls us to love one another…to love the likeable and unlikeable. It certainly makes sense that if we are to be a disciple of the Lord, we should love God and love our neighbor. Yet, sometimes that’s easier said then done.
My mother used to comment , “oh that person is so likeable”; that carried a lot of weight with her. The person might be some unprincipled politician or actor or a saint. Some people are “likeable”… pleasant, friendly, easy to like. Actually that same likeable person may or may not be a good person, a virtuous person, a holy person.
What about those people that you just don’t like… maybe it’s a personality conflict, maybe they remind you of yourself, maybe they bring out the worst in you …. ‘oh no, it’s not them again…’
Well, St. Claude La Colombiere said something that really helped me with this….listen up: “As for feelings of resentment, I can only say one thing: anything which is not voluntary is not sin, and great charity may exist simultaneously with strong indeliberate feelings of hatred and revenge. (yikes!!!)… all that is required is that in spite of them you do not give up praying for the people for whom you feel an aversion; that you speak and act toward them as if you liked them, and that in the depth of your heart you desire to have all the charity that God wishes those who really love him to have.” (Magnificat, Sept.9, 2021)
So, if we pray for that person we don’t like and try to treat them well, then we can be at peace… even if our emotions are not in line. St. Therese, the Little Flower, had a superior who treated her very poorly, yet she truly loved her and was kind to her and eventually began to even “like” her.
Let’s remember “anything that is not voluntary is not sin” and we can be a very charitable person even when it doesn’t feel very good.
So, “let us always meet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love.” (Mother Teresa)