If we really want to truly love, we should be willing to suffer for others out of love for God and for all souls. We need to realize that the willingness to suffer is the ultimate proof that our love is genuine. Love should not just be a matter of goodwill, of benevolence, of doing some good to others. It has to go all the way to an eagerness to suffer for the others.
This is what Christ has done for us and has commanded us to do. Being both God and man, Christ should be seen by us as the epitome of true love which is the very essence of God that is also meant for us since we are supposed to be God’s image and likeness.
In showing us that love where the willingness to suffer is highlighted, St. Paul made this description of Christ: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.
“Rather, he emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2,5-8)
We have to be willing to suffer the way Christ suffered for all of us. That is what true love is. No wonder that Christ himself said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15,13)
No wonder also that as St. Peter said in his First Letter, “He (Christ) did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” (2,23) We have to learn to restrain our urge to take revenge whenever we are offended in some way by others.
It is this willingness to suffer that would show how, like Christ, we can go all the way to giving ourselves completely to everyone, irrespective of how they are. That is also why Christ commanded us, as an integral component of true love, that we even love our enemies.
In true love, the lover goes all the way to identify himself with the beloved with the view of giving the beloved what is objectively good for both the lover and the beloved. There is a kind of unification between the two that is based on what is objectively good for both.
We have to train ourselves to develop this kind of love. And we can use the usual conditions, concerns and circumstances in our daily dealings with others to develop that kind of love. Whenever some differences and conflicts occur among ourselves, we should be willing to suffer for the others, bearing their burdens, even if we also try to sort out and settle these differences and conflicts as peacefully and charitably as possible.
This willingness to suffer should be an active thing, not a passive one, waiting for suffering to come. We have to look for opportunities to suffer. That would be real proof that we are truly in love. What is more, such attitude would help us in protecting ourselves from temptations, sins, and all other forms of evil!*