Some things that feel like love, aren't. Like seduction or eroticism or flattery.
On the other hand, if it doesn't look like love or feel like love—if it's cold and condemning and feels like contempt —it isn't love.
Love actually does feel like love. Sometimes love has to inflict pain. But it hates having to do that. It's sorry to give pain. It hastens to soothe and comfort afterwards.
We shouldn't delude ourselves into imagining that "hating the sin" equals "loving the sinner."
Condemning sin isn't good or admirable if it coincides with contempt for concrete persons.
Yesterday's Gospel passage was the one of the woman washing Jesus' feet with her tears, while the Pharisees objected to being in the presence of a public sinner. Our priest at Mass drew out one line to emphasize in his homily: Jesus saying to the Pharisees, "Do you see this woman?"
We have a tendency to see the sin, while we overlook the person. God sees the person and loves the person, despite the sin.
So, the "righteous ones"—the publicly religious ones, who thought that decent people like them should avoid association with sinners—go down in history as the bad guys, while the beauty and greatness of that woman's act of contrition and oblation is still being extolled the world over more than two millennia later.
Love is kind; love is gentle; love builds up. It consoles. It's never mean or rude or obnoxious or sneering or self-righteous and condemnatory. It's always focused on the concrete reality of the individual before us.
Right after I heard that homily, I came upon this von Hildebrand quote in my facebook feed:
Love is characterized by a commitment to the other person, by an affirmation of the other in his existence, by a unique kind of solidarity with him.
Proselytizing doesn’t work because confronting people as walking categories of sin quickly communicates that one is only seeing people as units of fault and failure. It says that their inherent, God-begotten worth and love-ableness is a peripheral thing, only recognized and honored once all the sinning has stopped, contrition has been expressed and appropriate penances have been completed.
Proselytizing tries to make people jump into holiness in order to get Jesus, which entirely contradicts Jesus’ own example.