Love. The most powerful word in the human language. This word is found hundreds of times in the Bible. Love sustains us in impossible times.
Over the course of history we have all confronted the same challenges, and come to the same truths—Love sustains. As Mother Teresa said, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”
Humans have intrinsic needs: Shelter, warmth, sustenance and companionship. Without any one of these we fail to thrive. Study after study show that our happiness is at peak when we have our basic needs met and we experience love. Once our basic needs are met, our happiness does not improve greatly by having more, in fact, it decreases. We are meant to have what we need and to enjoy the goodness in that which is “Our Daily Bread.” Only companionship and love provides more happiness.
Love is perhaps the single most difficult word to define.
Love is more than an emotion, more than romance, more than affection. Love is welcoming your Higher Power to shine through you and onto others. And so, in knowing this, it is nearly impossible to describe all that love is.
Love embodies compassion, patience, kindness, empathy, and acceptance. It is loving others although you may not love what they do. It is about loving our elders and recognizing their long term contributions to our world. It is about loving those that may be unkind, placing kindness where it is easier to be unkind.
As Pope Francis said, “To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: It means seeing in every person and face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely.”
Love is the single most powerful component to heal. Science has seen the profound effect love and nurturing can have on those suffering from disease, grief, and tragedy.
Love and encouragement of a child will cause him or her to grow with great security and blossom into a person capable of loving others. Empower the ones you love. Tell your children that everything is possible. Tell them they are here for a reason, and that God is in them, shining through them. Encourage their unique talents and abilities and let them make mistakes. Tell them you love them, even when they upset you. Don’t reserve your love for when it is easy and fun. Love all of the time.
We are familiar with 1Corinthians 13:1-7 in which we learn: Love is patient; love is kind; it does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
To experience love is to know there is another there for you, even if you make a mistake. Love is unconditional. It’s knowing you can let your guard down- wholly- be vulnerable, exposed, and still be completely safe. It is absolute trust in another.
Let us walk with love each and every day. Let us remember: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7 ESV)
Love more than anything imbues and inspires the work of Catholic Charities and how our staff cares for those we serve. We feed the hungry, care for the elderly, counsel the sick at heart. We heal, comfort and empower people of all faiths. What we find in our work is that the love we give away comes back to us. Not just once in a while. Every SINGLE time, and sometimes twice as much.