What is Love?

Nowadays we label lots of different emotions under that one term “love”.  We can say for instance that I would love an ice-cream OR perhaps you would love your team to win.  BUT….what exactly is love? 

In 2012 the most searched phrase on Google was exactly that “what is love”?  Love puzzles and perplexes us.  Most songs on the radio seem to be about love.  Losing love is something that hurts us terribly.  Love is not something we can touch or feel and yet…. we cannot deny its existence.  So, perhaps to better understand what love is, we can look at concrete examples of love being lived.

St Paul shows us that love is not self-seeking.  It is neither boastful nor envious.  Love instead is patient and kind.  It seeks the well-being of the other.  Love is to be shared – it simply can’t be contained within us.  When we love, it spreads and others benefit.  We know this from our own experiences.  We know the power of a kind word, or kind deed.  A visit to an elderly neighbour, or the giving of your time to listen to a friend, can really help.  Love in action makes a difference. Lives change and the effect is lasting.

Did you know that the Ancient Greeks had 6 words for love.  The highest form of love for them was called “Agape” – it is the total giving or emptying of oneself.  This is the word used in the Bible to describe God’s love.  God wanted to demonstrate His unconditional love for us, so He became one of us and died for us.  God showed us that His very nature is “to love.”  From the cross Jesus loved…. He asked His Father to forgive those crucifying Him.  The night before He died, Jesus left only one commandment.  He asked His disciples to “love one another as He had loved them.”  Following His example of love will make us happy and fulfilled.  Only love can make the world a better more peaceful place. 

Scripture speaks of a man and woman leaving their parents to become one.  This signifies leaving everything, those you love, sometimes your career, your country…. emptying yourself for your loved one.  Two become ONE.  Love will help that ONE grow and blossom…… spreading to those around you.  Pope Francis recently told us that “love is found more in action than in words.  Love looks to give rather than to receive.”  BUT…as you know, love isn’t always easy.  Love doesn’t happen by itself.  The flame must be fanned as there are potholes along the way.  It is the simple things that can help love to grow, like spending time together, listening to each other, and sharing, but not just your possessions, but sharing your inner life…..your joys, sorrows, hopes, frustrations, worries and fears. 

All that we do in life is a means to an end, but love is an end in itself, because God is love ( St Therese of Avila).  

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