a reading to remember

by: Fr. Roy Cimagala

That’s what love does. By definition, it needs to grow, to heighten, to go to the limits of possibilities. If these things are not happening to one who says he is in love, you can be sure of it, he is actually not loving. He's merely playing games.

This is the predicament that many of us usually find ourselves in. We in theory can realize this demand of love, but in practice we get hampered by a number of reasons.

Love is supposed to be lived without measure. It's in its character to be generous, heroic, full of excitement and eagerness, inventive and resourceful. It's never passive. It plans, anticipates, watches.
Problems and failures only offer opportunities to love in other ways. Successes never spoil it. They on the contrary spur it.

But difficulties abound along the way. For one, there's tension between the bodily and spiritual dimensions of our nature. The body needs to cope, and often fails, to the impulses of our spirit. Our flesh often pours water on the ardor of our soul. As our Lord said, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

We have to contend with the realities of our natural human weaknesses-our laziness, idleness, self-centeredness, our proneness to tiredness and to discouragement, to narrow-mindedness, etc. It's not easy at all to handle these things. These blur and degrade our understanding of love.

And so, what starts as an individual case can spread into social dimensions, creating a culture that shapes love in terms of our weaknesses rather than enhancing its potentials.

There's also that tension that needs to be resolved between our nature and the supernatural goal to which it is oriented. This is made more dramatic because our nature has been wounded by sin. This is where love is not only degraded, but corrupted.

We can think, erroneously of course, that love can be grounded on us alone, according to our many human criteria, and not on God, who is actually the source of love. He, in fact, is love. "Deus caritas est." This is what we are seeing these days-people loving on their own, detached from God.

Still, the objectivity of love's nature and character is not obviated by these difficulties. It's still possible to love the way love should be done and lived. In the first place, God never leaves us. He always intervenes in our lives and finds has his ways to help us.

What is impossible to us is always possible to him. From darkness he can always draw light. From death, life. He has shown that his mercy is forever. And his wisdom is such that he could take advantage of our stupid mistakes to derive something good.

His love goes all the way, even up to death. If our love flows from his, nothing could stop it, not our mistakes, not our sins. Like water, it will find a way to go to the sea.

But we have to do our part. We have to see to it that we conform our love to his. That's the only way our love can also go all the way. If ours are simply grounded on human reasons-sentimental, human attraction, political, social, philanthropic, etc.-it will stop at some point.

As St. Paul said: "Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." It has a way of sustaining itself even when we reach the limits of our human powers.
Just the same, we have to understand that love needs to build up. We should go to the extent of feeling such build-up, such heightening. When we notice that such fire is fading or, worse, is missing, we have to realize we have a problem insofar as love is concerned.

How else can we interpret Christ's own words: "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind."

This total self-giving is a dynamic thing, whose law can only be that of a continuing intensity of love, perhaps not so much in terms of feelings as of the will. This distinction is important so that we know exactly how to measure our love's intensity.

Ideally, of course, the will and the feelings should go together. But given our human condition, there will be times when the will has to go on even while the feelings run dry.
True love-the love of God with the corresponding love of neighbor-always abides in spite of and also because of difficulties.