If we treat love as a verb and a decision then we tend to view it a bit differently from the way we would the noun, especially when surrounded by a slew of heart-shaped candies, mushy cards, and suggestions for romantic overtures around Valentine’s Day. Real love requires sacrifice, selflessness, and a commitment to the overall wellbeing of another. It’s not always neat, pretty, or easy to love others. Christ showed us that during His Passion and death.
“Real love leaves scars” a priest once told us in his homily. We can’t offer true love and charity to others without giving something of ourselves. Oftentimes suffering, struggle, and resistance are necessary elements we face internally or externally when we commit to being there for and with someone, come what may.
Of course we have the most amazing examples of love from which to learn: the Father’s love for us, as expressed in giving up His Only Son for our salvation, and the Blessed Mother’s love for God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the whole of humanity in saying yes to being the supreme God-bearer-Theotokos. We can know love because God loves us first and shows us how to extend that charity, tenderness, and devotion through serving others.
We know someone loves us when he or she willingly accepts any challenges, suffering, and/or transformation necessary in mind, body, and spirit to bring us closer to the Lord. Christ gave up everything out of love for us: His peace of mind, His healthy body, His power, all of it. Some who many not know Christ can still know love because they have people in their lives who care deeply for and about them.
If we make a friend, we’re risking loving that person. When that outreach is accepted, the person comes to a greater knowing that he or she is loved. Once we know we are loved by others, but most importantly, by a merciful, compassionate God, then it is possible for us to go forth and live in that love.
God is love. We were created out of love and are sustained by it. Taking time in prayer to listen to the Lord increases our awareness that God loves us and wants to love others through us. We need to be plugged in, recharged, and rejuvenated by the Source of All Love if we are ever going to know and therefore be able to live out those most important of all commandments: 1.) Love the Lord God with all your mind, and with all your heart, and with all your strength 2.) Love your neighbor as yourself.
Note to Readers: This reflection on their theme is dedicated to the participants of the 463rd Men's Cursillo taking place at Shalom House from this evening through Sunday. This article first appeared in the February issue of The Rooster Review.