Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Adam Royal
October 30, 2021 - 5:00 PM
October 31, 2021 - 8:30 AM
There is a sense in which this is a beautiful passage of scripture. The only law is to love. Which is to say, that we are made for love. We were made to be loved by God and through the experience of it to learn how to love every other person we meet. This, essentially, is a description of the Church, God’s community of love. But all this talk about love raises an important question: what is love?
I think we are often confused about this. We speak of love as if it were an emotion. Love is something we fall into or out of. Love warms the heart and makes us feel good inside. Or, at least, it brings us a kind of comfort in the more difficult moments of life. This is a wrong and dangerous idea. If we really buy into it, it leads to an unchanging and uncaring world. I once heard someone talking about how we could make the world a more loving place. His idea was to go around smiling at the homeless and hungry. That way they would know they were loved and they would feel better about the plight of poverty. What nonsense. This is someone who bought into the idea that love is an emotion and lived it out. To see love in this way reduces us to inaction or, at best, merely symbolic action and nothing ever changes.
Love, authentic love, is not an emotion, it is a choice. To love is to will another’s good. It is to want what is best for another person. Therefore love is an act of the will. And it is demanding. To love someone requires we know them. That we encounter them and learn who they are. Knowing who they are and through the use of reason we can then discern what is good for them and actually try to achieve it. Real love is difficult. It requires we forget ourselves and our own needs for a moment and think only of others. In contrast to smiling at the hungry, loving people would feed the hungry. Loving people would talk to the hungry, get to know them and understand how they ended up in their situation in the first place. Then they would fight against the systemic injustices of this world that create poverty. That is, they would act constantly to ensure the one they love did not have to suffer anymore. Real love changes this world and makes it into a better place, it makes it into the Kingdom of God.
The only law of Christ is to love, but it is also the most difficult law ever promulgated because it demands everything of us.