This week, we will hear one of the most often quoted New Testament scriptures. St. Paul's definition of love. In his beautiful and inspiring text, he lays out all of the things that love is and isn't. It's a pretty long list. Often, when we hear this text (at just about every wedding in history) as well as on many Sundays, we can get caught up in all of the intricacies, the details and end up losing the real message. I mean, look at all the kinds of love. I love God, my family, my friends, my wife, my children, my students, my parish, my neighbor...whatever that means. I love pizza, playing golf, the beach, sleeping in, music to name just a few. Love sure does have a lot of meanings. Oh yeah, we also use the word itself in more ways than I could possibly imagine. So, with so many layers and intricacies how do we wrap our heart let alone our mind around the concept.
You know, there are whole classes taught on just this topic and we can get help from multiple "Love Doctors" that will give us advice about how to love better. So I guess my task this week is to give you my take in 500 words or less. Well, here it goes.
When I think about love, the first thing that goes through my head is the statement "God Is Love". To me, that means that everything that God is, God's entire substance, is made out of love. There is a theological term for God's love. It is called Agape or Agapic love. Simply, Agapic love is defined as a commitment totally centered on "The Other". One that can best be seen as a giving of ones self as a gift to another. This love is unconditional and is always willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the other.
So, here is how it works. I can feel love for someone or something, but a "feeling" sells love short.
People often say they are "falling in love". What that means is that they are rising to a place closer to God through love. Love is not just kindness. Kindness is the desire to relieve a suffering while love is the intentional willing of another's good. Agapic love is never about a "concept", it is always about another. In agapic love, you find your true self in giving yourself away. Your love is overflowing, restorative and forgiving.
Sound good? OK. How? Great question.
Here is my free and friendly advice. In your life, in your relationships and in your actions, if you make selflessness the ultimate desire of your intentions, than you will find that the loving choice is easier to find. You see, I can say that I love you but as we all know, love has very little to do with words. Instead, it is when we fix our lives on achieving the ideal of Agapic love, we find direction, meaning and satisfaction in our lives and relationships.
Finally, to nail this down, let me just say this. Choose any situation in our world, community, politics, religion, relationship. How different would the situation be if all of the decisions that were made came from the concept of Agape? Does this sound WAY TOO IDEALISTIC? Maybe, but isn't what it could be worth loving each other enough to find out?
Peace and Love to You.
Music for January 31st
Processional - Standing on the Promises - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVeHDun_oEQ
Psalm - 71 - http://www.ocp.org/compositions/76050
Offertory - Oh, What He's Done For Me - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVP9TKLMCSA
Communion - Prayer of St Francis - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gcxg4XQgaGg
Meditation - Instrument of Peace - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjla_FHNIWA
Recessional - Great Is Thy Faithfulness - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-HszBrTGfA