Doing Love

Antonio P. Pueyo
Homily for October 23, 2005
30th Sunday in Ordinary time (A)
Reproduced with Permission

Regarding love, we hear the phrases, “giving love”, “making love”, “falling in love”. According to these expressions love is a thing that one gives, a sexual physical act, or a feeling of attraction. I propose a new phrase, a new expression – doing love. It is synonymous to the verb “loving”. However the verb “love” has become too ambiguous that perhaps “doing love” might catch the gospel meaning of love.

Love is at the center of Christian life. When Jesus was asked about the great commandment, His answer was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, And with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”(Mt. 22:34-39)

Love is primarily an action, and secondarily a thing. We might compare its primary and secondary (analogous) meaning to the usage of the word “walk”. Walk is primarily an action as in “She walks to work”. Secondarily the term walk can be a noun as in “The walk is slippery.” The noun’s meaning comes from the verb. And so, loving is a action from which is derived the thing we call love. We say “God is love” (1Jn . 4:8). Because “He loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.”(1Jn. 4:10).

In our ordinary conversations, love is seen more as a thing or a commodity, as in “Give me your love,” or “Love is all I need.” Doesn’t this kind of speaking reflect a kind of thinking? This kind of thinking considers love like a grocery item., “Give me a kilo of rice,” or “Sugar is all I need”. Reducing love to mere commodity demeans love.

I therefore propose that we bring back the active meaning of love. Let love be an act. The act of loving needs effort, concentration, time, and prioritization. Love doesn’t just happen to us as in “falling in love” Love is a choice we make. It is something we will ourselves to do.

To love God with our whole being means to make God the center of our life. We think of God, we put God in the center of our plans and decision making, we ask ourselves if what we have done or about to do is in accord with the mind and heart of God. Would it be pleasing to God? Our model is Jesus whose food is “to do the will of the Father.” Another Model is the Blessed Mother Mary whose motto is “Fiat voluntas tua.” (Lk. 1:38). Let your will done. God is at the center of her life.

Action Starter: Are there instances where you have to exercise your will to love? Willpower may not be enough. Ask for God’s grace to help you love.

Once God is at the center of our life, the second commandment is easier to follow, to love our neighbor. Notice the description of Jesus, “the second is like it.” He likens the love of neighbor to the love of God. The two are inseparable. As the great apostle of love, St. John said, “No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1Jn. 4:12).

Love is a willed act . Like any act we have to learn, it might be difficult in the beginning, just as a baby finds it difficult to walk at first. But when one does it often enough it becomes a habit. It becomes easier to love. To love somebody who is lovable is easy to do, just like it is easy for a child to eat candies. To love somebody who is unlovable, or an enemy, is difficult. It is like the child who finds it hard to eat vegetables. One therefore has to learn how to love.

Isn’t it logical that they whom we call saints are people who have learned the art of loving? They love not just the lovable but even the unlovable, the unloved, and the unloving.

Once a famed veterinarian was asked why he kept at his job when the animals he treated bit, kicked, and oftentimes ran away from him. His answer was, “I love animals. That’s the reason I chose this profession. If they bite, kick and, run away from me, it is because they are in pain. That is not enough reason for me to stop treating them. In fact, that is the reason why I am needed.”

Perhaps this veterinarian describes what real loving action is. Isn’t this the way God loves us?