The Holy Bible says that man was created in God’s image and likeness. What in man corresponds most to God’s being is his capacity to love. We resemble God most by the manner we love.
The most intensely passionate natures, like those of Therese and Ignatius, are perhaps more drawn toward God as the only sufficient object than are gentler saints like Anselm or more versatile natures like that of Bernard. Great mystics do have tender worldly loves, but often they take the form of intense family attachments of a very domestic type. It is touchingly evident, however, that the saints often loved each other dearly and even “fell in love.” The mystics remind us that God is the greatest lover of all. Being chosen for a direct experience of this overwhelming love can be intoxicating, or a kind of madness. Teresa of Avila once noted that she had “been going around as if drunk.”
Perhaps the mostly distinctively Christian form of love springs from the commandment to love those who are not loveable. “But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you” (Luke 6:27).
In our own present time, Love, unfortunately, has become one of the most misunderstood and confused word in any language. Some want it to mean nothing more than the attraction between the sexes. Others see it only as desire and its satisfaction. And when others speak of it, love seems synonymous with sex. It’s all so sad because love understood as any of these is hardly love. It is confused: the wrapper is taken for the content.
Love is really like life. It is so vast in its meaning, so varied in its expressions and so rich in its manifestations that one has to be fully alive in order to understand love fully. If love is that capacity which makes us resemble God most, then we have to affirm as well that the measure by which we can test our loving is God himself.
God created everything not because He had to, but because, in His boundless love, He so willed that even His creature, man, should have a share in His Godhead, not by force but by a free response of love. Man is free precisely because freedom is the necessary condition for loving.
Jesus became God’s Word of Love to all men. He came to heal the brokenhearted, to free the prisoners, to restore the sick to health, to forgive all sins. St. Paul beautifully points out to us that Our Blessed Savior expressed the greatest manifestation of God’s love: “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus lowered Himself to the lowest known state so that He could raise us to God. In His love of the Father and of us, he chose to be born a man so that we might be born anew and live in God’s embrace. And when He was to go back to His Heavenly Father, He sent the Holy Ghost to dwell among us, to enliven us and to be the love that binds us together as a family with God.
The measure of love, then, is not what our hearts dictate or what our desires lead us to. Love is very much greater than what we now can feel. It is much more than the urges we feel from within. Love is, above all, the goodness that is in us that we must share with the goodness of others. It is the ability to fight for the love that is inherent within us which God himself imbued in our souls.
“Christian love bears evil, but it does not tolerate it. It does penance for the sins of others, but it is not broadminded about sin. The cry for tolerance never induces it to quench its hatred of the evil philosophies that have entered into contest with the Truth. It forgives the sinner, and it hates the sin; it is unmerciful to the error in his mind. The sinner it will always take back into the bosom of the Mystical Body; but his lie will never be taken into the treasury of His Wisdom. Real love involves real hatred: whoever has lost the power of moral indignation and the urge to drive the buyers and sellers from the temples has also lost a living, fervent love of Truth. Charity, then, is not a mild philosophy of “live and let live”; it is not a species of sloppy sentiment. Charity is the infusion of the Spirit of God, which makes us love the beautiful and hate the morally ugly.”- Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Laudetur Jesus Christus!
TLM Society of San Francisco