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Passing on Love

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Like happiness, love is the thing that everyone seeks but can hardly define.  People usually try to earn the favor of someone beautiful and worthy enough or show care and devotion to those who love them back or.  It is natural for a human to pour his or her affections on closest family members and friends in such a way that allows preserving our personal comfort and self-esteem. However, the example of Fr. Pedro Arrupe testifies that there is another attitude to love.

In order to understand what Fr. Arrupe expected from education, one must keep in mind that he was a devout Christian. Christianity as a religion stands on two pillars – love towards God and the neighbor. There is a difference between these two affections: the love for God results from perceiving the greatness and beauty of His personality, whereas the love for the neighbor does not depend on his qualities or behavior (is the fruit of experiencing God’s grace and mercy).

In his personal statement, Fr. Pedro Aruppe most certainly followed the command of Jesus Christ to love those who are weak and needy, because it is the attitude that God has towards each of us. (Mathew 5:43-48, English Standard version).  It has always been clear to Jesuits (and the rest of true Christians) that a person cannot claim to know and love God, while being indifferent to the suffering of the “little ones” that are precious to the Divine heart (Mathew 25:31-46, English Standard version).  Neither can one profess some devotion to the Lord if he neglects the very duty Christ has left to His people – that is to lay their lives for each other, just as He has done it for them (John 13:34, English Standard version).

Therefore, Fr. Aruppe called us to issue justice. The latter only exists where there is a Judge or at least some set of rules or benchmarks. Otherwise, everyone would have had his or her own justice (which we commonly see in the present relativistic world). It is very unlikely that Fr. Aruppe suggested simply paying ones taxes and hoping that the state will take care of the needy. Neither do I believe that the Head of Jesuits commended following some vague moral or humanistic ideals. Of course, it was God’s view of justice that Fr. Aruppe implied.  In the Bible God says that He is the One who has been giving the strength to the strong, intellect to the clever (Deuteronomy 8:18, English Standard version).  The person who does not want to exercise these qualities to serve God, is evil I His sight (Mathew 25:11-30, English Standard version).

Jesus Christ warned His disciples that people, who enjoy much good in this life and do not share it with those who have nothing, will suffer in the life to come. In turn, the poor, needy and afflicted for the sake of righteousness will receive comfort from God Himself in heaven.  The main idea of Christ’s teaching was that even the even least and poorest person has something to share with his neighbor. God will judge every individual according to how he has used what he possessed, not what we lacked. Such divine justice means that, as Fr. Aruppe said, the person who really cares for his or her eternal “self”, would not dare to live a selfish life.

However, reality demonstrates that no one can love God or his neighbor out of mere fear for his or her eternal destiny.  Such fear usually results either in total despair to meet God’s standards or the ugliest kind of self-exalting and hypocrisy.  To prevent this, Fr. Aruppe, wanted to see love, not dread, as a motivating force in his students’ lives and ministries.

I want to share one more example of a person who works for the justice of the least. Her name is Sammy Hammork, she is an American missionary who runs a preparatory school for disabled children in Kitale, Kenya. Sammy is 24 years old, and she studied Child and Adolescent Development in California State University, Fullerton. After graduation, she decided to apply her energy and newly acquired professional knowledge to working with children who have special needs. The extraordinary thing is that her love for the little ones knew no geographic boundaries.

Life is hard in Kenya. Even the strong and healthy don not have enough food and water. When a child with some special needs is born, he or she becomes a heavy burden to parents, who often suffer from severe health issues too. Sammy already has twelve kids permanently staying at her children’s home and six more coming to her school from another one. Some of them cannot sit or stand without support, do not talk. Sammy works out individualized education and socialization plans for each of them.  In order to demonstrate what motivates the missionary, I will quote one of the posts from her blog: “Times like these that remind me that it is all about simply being available to give these kids the love and attention that may not receive at home. It doesn't require some grand gesture, just simply passing on God's love to them”.

In conclusion, I would marvel at the aptness of the word that Fr. Aruppe has used to describe selfish, unfruitful love. Farce is a thrilling, funny but meaningless performance that is good for entertainment only. When a person has some affection but is unwilling to care for others or sacrifice anything for their good, such love becomes a farce. 

I agree that the major aim of education is to teach students to love, because love is the only worthy motive to do absolutely anything in life. In my opinion, true devotion is the disposition of heart to feel the pain of the downcast and be ready to sacrifice what it takes to lighten their burdens. Such an attitude cannot come out of nothing but anyone can develop it throughout his or her lifetime.

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