God is Love | Faith Friday

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.

- 1 John 4:7-8

We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction...Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.

- Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est

In his encyclical, "God is Love" (quoted above), our Emeritus pope, Benedict XVI, calls the verse from 1 John, "God is love" a clear expression of the very heart of the Christian faith. That is, while the doctrines of the Trinity, the resurrection and the Eucharist are all essential truths of our faith, the Truth at the very center and heart of our faith and of all these other truths is this: that God is love.

In his encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI talks about the difference between eros love and agape love, and the bad reputation eros has gotten of being "solely about sex". It is, as the former pope mentions, not all about sex. True eros is closely related to agape. He writes:

Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to “be there for” the other.

Our relationships with other people are opportunities to give and show love, to draw near to someone else and therefore draw near to God. The more we love another, the less concerned with ourselves we become, and the more we therefore approach a Godlike love. This is why God gives us the gift of human love.

Valentine's Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on the universal human longing to love and be loved - a truly God-given longing. Let's look past the unfortunate commercialism of the holiday for a second, and reflect on a purer interpretation of the holiday. In its most pure form, Valentine's Day is a widespread, public expression of the human desire to seek the happiness of the other. As friends and lovers exchange cards and gifts and spend time together today, God's deep desire that we all know and experience love is realized a little more than normal. Should we work harder to show love on every other day? Of course - but we have birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers'/Fathers'/Grandparents' days throughout the year precisely because we know sometimes we need to take a day to make that special effort for that special person. The fact that we have a Valentine's Day just shows that people want to give love - want to give God - to one another in the small ways they know how.

In his homily today, Father Ed Riley reflected on the simple beauty at the heart of Valentine's Day, and how the holiday can inspire us to reflect on our human relationships and also grow closer in love with God. You can watch his homily below:


God is Love | Faith Friday