(I John 4:7-10; Matthew 6:34-44)
A guest at a soup kitchen once questioned the affection of a volunteer who served him. “Miss Bea,” the man said, “do you love me?” The wife and mother replied, “Yes, Henry, I love you.” “Miss Bea,” the man went on, “would you come home with me?” “It ain’t that kind of love, Henry,” the woman objected.
There are different ways of loving which the wise person distinguishes. But there is only one love which is a thrust for unity. Married couples express love for one another in varied ways, most especially by the act of physical union. The volunteer showed her love for the poor man by her service. Where the first reading today says, “God is love,” it means that God desires to be one with everything that is. God’s love transcends natural love in that its scope includes the undesirable. For example, God loves us in our sinfulness. Indeed, God desires us so much that He came to live among us and died so that we might partake of His life.
God has also graced us with His love. We can desire to be with God even though we cannot see Him. We can also love others even though they have little to do with us and, indeed, even though they mistreat us. Choosing to love both God and others, we participate in God’s own life. This is eternal life. It begins here in our loving both appropriately and universally and not, as some think, in death.