In Sunday’s second reading we hear, “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” In the gospel, Jesus says, “This is my commandment. Love one another as I have loved you.”
What is love? I tried to gather my thoughts about this very real though invisible thing. I went to the dictionary on my desktop, and this is what I found:
1 an intense feeling of deep affection : babies fill parents with intense feelings of love | their love for their country.
• a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone : it was love at first sight | they were both in love with her | we were slowly falling in love.
• ( Love) a personified figure of love, often represented as Cupid.
• a great interest and pleasure in something : his love for football | we share a love of music.
• affectionate greetings conveyed to someone on one’s behalf.
• a formula for ending an affectionate letter : take care, lots of love, Judy.
2 a person or thing that one loves : she was the love of his life | their two great loves are tobacco and whiskey.
• Brit., informal a friendly form of address : it’s all right, love.
• ( a love) Brit., informal used to express affectionate approval for someone : don’t fret, there’s a love.
3 (in tennis, squash, and some other sports) a score of zero; nil : love fifteen | he was down two sets to love. [ORIGIN: apparently from the phrase play for love (i.e., the love of the game, not for money); folk etymology has connected the word with French l’oeuf ‘egg,’ from the resemblance in shape between an egg and a zero.]
verb [ trans. ]
feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone) : do you love me?
• like very much; find pleasure in : I’d love a cup of tea, thanks | I just love dancing | [as adj., in combination ] ( -loving) a fun-loving girl.
Somehow, the love that Jesus speaks about in scripture, was completely omitted from the dictionary’s list of possible meanings. I think that love is a commitment to consistently put another person’s well being and happiness before your own. It’s the love a spouse has for another when he/she puts the other spouse’s needs or desires before one’s own. It’s the love that overlooks another’s faults, and focuses on his/her endearing qualities. It’s the love parents have for their children when they play with a child even though they are really too tired to move. It’s the willingness to lay down one’s life for another to protect that person from pain.
True love is hard. It is demanding. It requires virtue and brings out the best in all involved in the love relationship.
My youngest son asked me what people need to survive. I answered, “Food, clothing, shelter…and love,” thinking about the studies that have been done with infants deprived of affection. They fail to thrive, and even die for lack of loving touch.
Sometimes, it is difficult to love – When our kids are whiny, or our spouses are annoying. With acquaintances and strangers, it can be even more difficult. We know that all people are God’s children. Unfortunately, it is often hard to see God in them – especially when they are rude, or don’t think the way that we do.
Sunday’s gospel is beautiful. I especially love the part when Jesus said, “It is not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” He picked me! He picked me! He picked you! How do we bear fruit that will remain? By preaching on the street corner? By shouting from the mountaintop?
I think that Mother Theresa and St. Therese of Lisieux truly understood and lived this gospel. Their way of life – their goal – was to do everything with love – to see the face of Christ in everyone with whom they interacted. But they were saintly individuals, you might say. Yes, they were. How could Mother Theresa care so tenderly for the dying, the wretched, the foul smelling? How did St. Therese’ treat with only kindness the nuns who were jealous of her and downright mean? They obtained much grace to love like Jesus loves through prayer. Both of these great, yet humble ladies, began their days with extended time in the Presence of our Lord.
Let us look to them as shining examples of how we can live Jesus’ command to love one another. A good start would be to extend our prayer time – reading God’s Word and listening to Him in silence – by 5 minutes each day. If you spend 0 minutes now, try 5. If you spend about 5, try 10. God wants to pour grace upon us – to quench our thirst for Him – but we must come to the well to drink – to fill up. Prayer time is when we meet Him at the well!
Have a Blessed Mother’s Day!