A Higher Kind of Love
6th Sunday of Easter

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Love is as old as the dawn of human civilization. In its most basic sense, love is care and regard for another. We can imagine the primitive mother taking care of her child in the cave called home, while the father joins a band of hunters looking for food. At night around the fire, the storyteller of the tribe tells a love story about their tribe’s origins. An inspired lover weaves word to express his passion for the beloved. Thus, poems and songs were born. Hundreds of thousands of years later, we still tell love stories, recite poems, and sing songs of love.

Action starter: “God is love and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 Jn. 4:16)

I submit a proposition, that human history is driven by love. Some thinkers would see the march of human presence in this planet as a fight for survival. Others see history as a struggle between classes. Still others see history as driven by the quest for knowledge and the fires of ambition. I say that human history began in love, is driven by love, and will end in love. This is not a philosophical vision, although some philosophers may have expressed this thought. This is a vision of faith. God who is love is the beginning and the end. At the lighting of the Paschal candle on Easter, the liturgy reminds us that God is Alpha and Omega.

The second reading this Sunday declares, “Love, then, consists in this: not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and has sent his Son as an offering for our sins. (1 Jn.4:9).” Jesus states even more clearly, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; remain in my love” (Jn. 15:9). In order to leave no doubt about what He means by love, Jesus gives an illustration, “There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends” (v. 13). This kind of love is inclusive, in such a way that the early Christian community under the leadership of Peter made a radical decision to accept the gentile, Cornelius and his family into the community (Acts 10).

The love that Jesus speaks about is a higher form of love. In the course of human history and even the history of the church, our attempts at loving oftentimes fall short of this self-sacrificing kind of love. Although we fall short of heroic love, we still uphold this highest form of love and hold it as an ideal to strive for. For the same reason, we have heroes. Heroes inspire us to go beyond what we think we are capable of.

Jesus is however, more than just a heroic figure to emulate and an image to inspire us. Jesus continues to be a living presence in the world and His community of friends. The Holy Spirit came down on the household of Cornelius and amazed the disciples that “the Holy Spirit should be poured out on pagans too.” So will the Spirit of Jesus amaze us and urge us to ge beyond what we think we are capable of, even to the point of heroic love. The love of Christ urges us to higher forms of love.

Love makes the world go round, as the saying goes. Many of us experience loving in its many forms such as romantic love, conjugal love, filial love, parental love, brotherly love, friendly love, philantrophic love, loving in the practice of our professions, and patriotic love. In all of these experiences of loving, we somehow enter into the mystery of God’s own love. In the practice of loving we move from just imagining love, talking love, singing love, making love, to self-giving love. With the Spirit of Christ urging us we grow from self-occupied love to heroic love. Then, will we know true love.