We are called to love.
It is likely, though, you’ve experienced fake love, or you know somebody who has fallen for one or more of the impersonations of the real thing.
The truth is that the heart of true human love is embodied in the desire and willingness to live creatively in the service of others’ well-being and the lover, even under pain, benefits and grows as much as the receiver, for whom and with whom the love is shared.
Falling, rather than recognising the calling to love, often manifests in our desire to be with someone, following the attractions of pleasing personality, physical charm, intelligence, wit, great companionship, personal fulfilment, and ego soothing.
True loving moves us to recognise and appreciate the other person for who they are in their hearty existence, rather than being self-indulgent, using or manipulating the other.
We sometimes fool ourselves about the strength of our intentions, often only infatuation, instead of inspired motivation to move beyond ourselves to live and love in creative action for the good of the other.
This positive spin is applicable in personal relationships, wider social interactions and in the social work we undertake, often calling it ‘charity’, translated as ‘love’, but upon closer examination, is often superficial showmanship, which fails to help persons to realise their full humanity.
Love better translates into freeing our brother/sister from the economic, political, and social chains which imprison them in body and spirit. So, ‘charity’ becomes justice, more valued when we open ourselves to the redemptive understanding of the call to love for the other!
Nothing of this proposition is easy. Nonetheless, it’s the call to which we need to be attuned. St Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13:4 – 6) reflects the promise of today’s Good News in the reward of blessedness and rejoicing when living primarily in the humility of operating on ‘level ground’, focusing on helping the other to achieve fulfilment.
In addition, the Word points to trust and hope in God, rootedness in Him and fruitfulness in life-giving nature. No contrivances, no deception.
Love is a gift, lived best in the fullness of divine provision and human acknowledgement of the source and the responsibility to be true to the heartiness, rather than the headiness of the call.
If and when we refuse to deny that we were created for love to follow the law of love, we deny our true humanity. We violate and frustrate ourselves. We self-destruct.
Witness the many suicides – fractured self-love born of pervasive media influence of fragile, false imaging of what we’re called to be and do, as well as our family and community failure to adequately support our sister or brother.
Witness the rabid disposition to murder, cheating, fraud, corruption, to careless medical practice, to disrespectful interactions even in religious ‘communities’, to lambaste people rather than listen to their voices and their pain, distress, disappointments.
Is it because we deny that human beings are body and spirit and that the refusal to love as God loves only lets us see the physical harm? But the spiritual wounding festers long and often hidden until it’s too late.
The norm for Love given for us by Christ –the Lover who gave all of Himself without judgement, urges us to ensure that our ‘neighbour’ is not only fed, refreshed, clothed, and freed from bondage, but also accompanied on the life journey.
No judgement of ‘worthiness’, no obligation to indulgence of self or other due to arbitrary desires empty of life-giving benefits for the good of the person. Tough love which parents learn, sometimes too late, works for adult relationships which need to grow beyond the flesh to wholeness, respecting and upholding the other’s dignity and freedom.
Responding to the call to be true lovers is never easy, but worth the joy, confidence, liberation, and fulfilment of being and living “in love”.