Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

What is love? 

Fifty years ago, the movie Love Story made popular the expression, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  Others have different expectations of love.  For some, it means helping another get, or do, anything that they want.  For others, it means simply making the other happy.  Still others think that love is an emotion.

One of many great things about being Catholic is that we have the teachings of God himself in the person of Christ along with almost two millennia of great and holy people interpreting those teachings.  St. Thomas Aquinas gives us his famous definition of love that we can build upon by saying that love is willing the good of the other for the sake of the other.  It is a decision, not an emotion.  It is wanting good for the other, not whatever the other wants.

But that really seems to describe love of neighbor.  The Greatest Commandment is to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  The second is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  How do I will the good of God for the sake of God?  Does God need some good that God does not already have?  How does God benefit from my willing some good for God?

Of course, God is already the source of all good.  And God needs nothing from us. 

So, while we cannot logically want some additional good for God, we can want to do the will of God.  Loving God means wanting to do God’s will.  That is how we love God.  That is why Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”  It is God’s will that we follow the Commandments.  In following them, we are loving God. 

Following the Commandments means following their literal meaning along with the other actions that fall underneath them.  It is not enough to say that we have not killed anyone.  Have we disrespected the dignity of others by causing scandal…by leading them to sin?  Have we harbored deliberate hatred toward another?    The Catechism shows us that all are sins against the Fifth Commandment. 

Are there some Commandments that we avoid?  Some that we think do not apply to us or no longer apply to our times?  Do we realize that these exceptions to following the Commandments are ways in which we hold back on fully loving God?