REFLECTION: Love the constant and final criterion PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 11:20

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

Now that we are beginning a new year, it’s good to be reminded that love, and not just any other value, no matter how legitimate and useful, should be the constant and final criterion to see if we are living our life well or not.

This is what is proper to us, given our dignity as persons and children of God. We have been created out of love and for love. Our common vocation, for which we have been designed physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, etc., is to love and to enter into communion with God and with one another.

Love is also the reason why God has to redeem us, sending his Son to us by becoming man and showing us the way how to love, given our weakened and wounded condition due to sin.

It would be good that at the end of the day, as we review how the way went, we can clearly say that we have been motivated by love in all our thoughts, words and deeds, and that in fact we can notice a growth of it. How wonderful it would be if that is the case!

This should be our mindset all the time. If for one reason or another we deviate from that plan, let’s rectify ourselves immediately. Yes, there are many elements that can undermine it and betray what we ought to be and to do.

We have to contend with our weaknesses, the false allurements of the world and the tricks of the devil. We have to be quick to expose them and to do battle with them.

But we have to understand that we can only love as we ought if we are vitally united with God. He is love by essence. He is the source and pattern of love. He is the end and goal of love. There is no other.

We have to be wary when our love does not start and end with him, when it’s not patterned after his love. This divine love has been shown to us in full in Christ who offered his life on the cross for us. “No one has greater love,” Christ says, “than he who offers his life for his friend.”

We need to see to it that we understand love not simply as a matter of what is pleasurable and gratifying to our senses and feelings. Neither can it be something that gives us only convenience, power, fame, wealth. These may be legitimate, but they cannot be the main source or motor for love.

Love has to be first of all a matter of faith that is acted on more by our intelligence and will that are under the influence of grace, than of the blind impulses of our senses and feelings.

In this regard, we have to be clear about the proper relationship between our senses and emotions, on the one hand, and our intelligence and will, our spiritual faculties, on the other.

We have to be guided more by our intelligence and will without neglecting the indispensable role of our senses and emotions. And let’s see to it that these spiritual faculties of ours are nourished by our faith and by God’s grace that is given to us in abundance.

We have to be clear about this because we have the awful tendency to be dominated by our emotions and passions, and to fall into sentimentalism that would often be dead to the faith-nourished intelligence and will of ours.

Or said in another way, we allow our intelligence and will to be directed not by faith and the grace of God, but by our senses and feelings alone, and by some worldly criteria, like social trends, etc.

To be sure, love is not all sweet. Let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that it is an all-things-bright-and-beautiful affair. It will unavoidably involve suffering, lots of it, since it has to cope with the limitations of our nature, and more so, with the consequences of ours sins, and these latter can be endless.

Be that as it may, we should not think that love is something difficult to do. It is first manifested by doing our ordinary daily duties and responsibilities, for these are the basic expressions of God’s will for us, and love is precisely doing God’s will.

It can be shown by always being nice to others, thinking well of them in spite of their defects and mistakes. It is especially shown when we can manage to be merciful and compassionate with everyone, friend or foe.