There was a time when girls and boys wrote their own Valentine sentiments on homemade cards. Even with smears of white paste, misspelled words or two, they were able to relay their message. Remember these? Forget me not, forget me never until the sun has set forever. Or first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes sally with a baby carriage. Or the ever popular, roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you. Then, some clown got hold of that and turned it into, “roses are red, violets are blue, monkeys like you, belong in the zoo.”
Love is a mutual relationship of persons. It cannot be mutual if it is selfish. It cannot be called a relationship if there is no communication. It cannot be personal when we do not treat each other well.
God’s love for us is personal. It is a sharing of persons, between a You and an I. This personal aspect of love relates us with each other. We are brothers and sisters in one Father. We become who we are because of who God is for us—our Savior and Friend.
That is why when Jesus continued his Sermon on the Mount, he told his disciples how to live worthily and meaningfully. He emphasized the law of love, instead of love for the law.
We are bound to God because of our baptism. We are bound to each other because of our faith. This relationship creates an intimacy that calls for love. If ever we have to be reconciled with our brother or sister who sinned against us, it is because God loves us. If ever we have to pluck our eyes and throw our vision, if ever we have to cut off our hand and surrender our addiction, and if ever we have to lose ourselves, it is because we love God.
As in all relationships, the goal and objective of love is intimacy. God wants to be intimate with us that He sent Jesus. Jesus wants to be intimate with us that He instituted the Sacraments. The Holy Spirit wants to be intimate with us that sufficient grace is given even with our faults and weaknesses.
It takes a radical transformation to be intimate with God. The greatest freedom He gave, the freedom to choose what we want, is also the greatest challenge and gift He bestowed. As the Book of Sirach says, “before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.”
How many of us would have better lives if only we listen to Jesus? It is not love when a person looks with lust to a man or a woman. It is not love when anyone of us harbors anger in our hearts. That feeling of anger can only lead to bitterness and pain. And it is not love when anyone of us swears that we become untruthful. That is called bearing false witness and is against God’s commandment.
Not many of us commit grievous sins like murder or adultery. But the warning is there for sins bordering on murder, adultery and false accusations. They are anger, hatred, slander, arrogance and lust. If angry and hateful thoughts could kill, our enemies would be in their graves by now. If lustful thoughts could entertain our senses, movie stars and Hollywood would be out of business.
Jesus is teaching us that our greater value comes from within ourselves. Go beyond the letter of the law, he says. In all things choose what is just, what is good and what is life.
And why? Because roses are red, violets are blue, we love God, God loves you!
13 February 2011