What is love?

In 07 Observations on 2014/04/18 at 12:00 AM

Detailed notes taken by Aida Tamayo on Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism Series

Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, defines love as “to will the good of another.” Love is not a feeling.  Love is an act of the will to want that which is good for someone else.  If possible one will also act to bring about the good of another. That is why Jesus said love your enemy (Will the good of that person).  What is the good of the person, my enemy? Perhaps that this person sees the evil in his actions and turns to do what is good.

Love is a powerful word and it is the most overused and abused word of our times.  Pope Benedict XVI said God is Love and he is right.  But when our understanding of Love is so skewed, so will be our understanding of God.  Here is how we use LOVE: I love pizza (it pleases me) I love this show (it entertains me) I love you (you give me pleasure), I love my parents (as long as they don’t tell me what to do or inconvenience me) I love God (as long as His Will doesn’t interfere with mine).  Love in our world is what makes me feel good.  So if God is Love He will do what will please me. No.

God is LOVE, the source of all goodness.  Love is not what I feel and it is not about me. Love is about the good I can will and do for others.

Loving God, and being His followers.  Pope John Paul II called the Beatitudes the self-portrait of Christ in Veritatis Splendor. Most Bible scholars would agree that the Beatitudes give us a clear picture of the true disciple of God.  To get to this point, a follower must be following all the commandments and come to understand that the meaning of life is doing the will of God.  Pursuing the Beatitudes will perfect the soul of those that will to follow the Lord. Father Barron says that the Beatitudes reveal that the true path of joy is found not in grasping at power but in the willing surrender to God’s mysterious grace.

Loving others, and turning the other cheek.  Turning the other cheek is a way of forcing an aggressor to confront its aggression.  We are not saying that a Jewish person in Nazi Germany confronts the Gestapo.  That would be suicide. What Jesus meant is that when presented with an injustice, instead of returning the injustice or running away from it we choose a 3rd option… turn the other cheek.

To illustrate the point we can look at someone who understood Jesus’ message well and puts it into practice.  Blessed Teresa once entered a bakery in Calcutta with a poor hungry child.  She asked the owner if he could spare a piece of bread for the child.  He spit in her face.  She calmly wiped her face looked at him kindly and said, that was for me, now can you spare a piece of bread for the child.  That is what Jesus meant by turning the other cheek. She understood Love: Will the good of the other.


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