The Identity of Love
Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ
Once a stranger first time came to meet me
in my office. About 35 years-old stranger had a
young girl with him. After we
greeted each other, the young man introduced himself giving
me his full name, his address a
nd his occupation. But he did no
t say anything about the girl
with him. Wanting the gi
rl also to get involved in our co
nversation I asked the young man:
Friend, is the girl with you your daughter?
“No Father. She is my wife. I have come to
her father’s house at Ahmedabad,” the young man
hailing from a far away plac
e in Saurashtra told me.
“My friend, please forgive me for mistaking
your wife as your daughter. I made a big
mistake,” I apologized to the couple for my blunder.
“Father, I am of small stature. That is why
you mistook me for his daughter. Isn’t it?” The
young girl said to me making
light of the embarrassing situatio
n. My hats off to the sixth
sense of that perceptive woman!
“Father, we are Christians,” said the yo
ung man proudly unmindful of my blunder.
The conversation of the young man and woman
made me feel light and forgiven. “From now
on I will be careful not to prejudge people a
nd from forming wrong notion of strangers,” I
Usually in my office I welcome all people with
love and warmth who come to meet me. I am
pleased to meet strangers without any discrimination of their caste or religion, culture or
language. Many people open up to me and spea
k intimately of their personal lives. I do not
ask the people their caste or creed in welcoming
them. I talk to people warmly as each one is
a brother or sister of me and they deserve my love and respect.
My habit of welcoming people with warmth a
nd love has been put into verses by a poet
friend, Prakash Jalal. His poem
has been published in the Silver
Jubilee Souvenir of Catholic
Information Service. Here are a few stanzas of the poem written originally in Gujarati.
The CISS Office door is open for all.
There are love and agape for each one.
You are welcome in person,
Or through phone calls and letters.
Your visit always turns to be a memorable event.
The effort is always unity of all religions.
People of all caste and creed come to CISS offi
ce. But as the poet Prakash says, in CISS office
my staff personnel or I do not make any discri
mination of the people. The young man sitting
in front of me has introduced
himself as a Christian because he
was proud of his faith and he
came to meet me because he wanted to be a
collaborator of CISS in spreading the message of
Jesus Christ and the Bible.
Seeing the couple sitting in fron
t of me, an old question came to my mind. “Would there be
enough proof if you are accused of
being a follower of Jesus Christ?
In the last analysis there is on
ly one criterion of evidence to prove a person to be genuine
disciple of Jesus Christ. It is the criterion of
love. Jesus giving his di
sciples a new command of
love said: “If you have love for one another,
then everyone will know that you are my
disciples” (Jn 13, 35).
In spite of my blunder the reac
tion of the young coup
le proved to me that they love each
other and respect me, an elder. The couple’s mu
tual love and their love for others are the
forces in the couple’s life for their desire to
spread Jesus message of love, forgiveness and
We know that St Paul was a true disciple of Je
sus who understood well Jesus message of love.
He writers, “For the whole Law is summed up
in one commandment: ‘Love your neighbour as
you love yourself” (Gal. 5, 14). He says further, “We are ruled by the love of Christ, now that
The Identity of Love