Love Changes Everything
- Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart
The love of God has the power to change us. The love of God has the ability to accomplish what it is set out to do. The love of God makes us lovable. This is what Pope Benedict has in mind when he stated, "The history of the love-relationship between God and Israel consists, at the deepest level, in the fact that he gives her the Torah, thereby opening Israel's eyes to man's true nature and showing her the path leading to true humanism. It consists in the fact that man, through a life of fidelity to the one God, comes to experience himself as loved by God, and discovers joy in truth and in righteousness—a joy in God which becomes his essential happiness: “Whom do I have in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you ... for me it is good to be near God” (Ps 73 :25, 28)” (Deus Caritas Est, 9). When we realize that God truly loves us it changes our lives.
In 1956 Alfred Hitchcock Presents aired an episode called “The Legacy,” in which Hitchcock tells an intriguing tale of a wealthy couple named Howard and Irene Cole that are on an extended vacation at a Palm Beach resort. The couple seems normal enough amongst all the other wealthy couples except one thing catches the notice of other couples. Howard spends all his time with younger beautiful women, playing tennis, dining and even dancing. It becomes quite scandalous to those observing the couple and some mention it to his average looking homemaker Irene. She defends her husband and their marriage saying that they love each other, and that this is just how their marriage is. Within all this turmoil, a famous novelist named Randy Burnside arrives on the scene to announce the arrival of the subject of his next book. Mr. Burnside had been following Prince Burhan a well known prince from India who is as much playboy as he is tall, dark and handsome. When the prince arrives, he immediately takes an interest in Irene. They spend all their time together, dining, dancing and picnicking, to the point that it becomes scandalous to others at the resort. Eventually, Prince Burhan tells Irene that he loves her and begs her to leave her husband. Irene responds like she did earlier – she loves her husband and people just don’t understand their relationship. Prince Burhan promises that if she does not come away with him then he will kill himself. Irene remained faithful to Howard. The next day Prince Burhan is found dead in a car accident which looks to be an apparent suicide. With all the turmoil and perhaps guilt on Irene’s part, the Coles head back to New York City. A few days later the author, Mr. Burnside, trying to conclude his novel, stumbled upon the fact that Prince Burhan was completely broke and was just courting Irene for her money. Out of the wish to relieve Irene of her guilt, Mr. Burnside traveled to New York, where he found Howard and Irene together and happy. Irene was changed. She was beautiful, vibrant, and confident. Consequently, Mr. Burnside did not share the information with Irene which he had traveled all that way to deliver. But what was it that changed Irene and her marriage? It was this; she found herself loved by a prince, she was loved by someone that everyone else just dreamed to be in the presence of, she was loved by someone whose love she believed she was not worth of. Love changed her. Here is the news flash, God loves you and He is much more impressive then some prince.
What we must do is to allow God’s love to transform us. As Pope Benedict points out we must receive God’s love in order to be able to give love, “He cannot always give, he must also receive. Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift. Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which rivers of living water flow (cf. Jn 7:37-38). Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God (cf. Jn 19:34)" (Deus Caritas Est, 7). Once we are transformed and truly know ourselves as loved by God we will then experience the uncontainable desire to tell others of the love of God.
Perhaps you can recall a time in your life when a friend or family member had just found a new love. Perhaps the new love could be something like a hobby, but hopefully it is something more worthy like a person who can then return this love. When your friend has found this new love and that love is reciprocated what is it that they want to talk about? Their 'love'. Everything always comes back to their 'love'. They way she looks, the way she smiles, the way she smells, the way she laughs, blasé, blasé, blasé … Is this not the experience of the saints? Can you imagine sitting down with St. John Bosco, St. Teresa of Avila, or St. Francis of Assisi and talking about something other than their 'love' who was Jesus Christ? Sure, they would have and could have talked with you about other topics, but if they had a choice what do you think they would talk about?
However God’s love is so great that it is not enough to talk about it with others. There is created a need to give His love to others. The more we understand ourselves as beings loved by God and seek to love God, the more our love will grow towards others. Pope Benedict stated, “Love grows through love. Love is “divine” because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a “we” which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28)” (Deus Carita Est, 18). In other words, the more we can love God the more we can love each other. So the opposite must be true as well, the colder our love for God grows the more we move away from our neighbor, friends, family, or even spouse.
All of this is made even more important by the fact that we are commanded to love God and our neighbor as ourselves (Mk 12:28-31). Fortunately for us God will provide the grace for such a lofty requirement to be fulfilled, as the Holy Father said, “The 'commandment' of love is only possible because it is more than a requirement. Love can be 'commanded' because it has first been given” (Deus Caritas Est, 14). Thus, this is the walk that we will continue our entire life. Our challenge is to fall in love with our Lord more and more, as St. Josemaria Escriva said; “Now I begin! This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve – to love!- God with a wholehearted loyalty" (The Furrow, 161). This relationship that is created with God will extend to others around us. Love will never give way and there is no time in which someone would say that there is enough love (parents of a new child recognize this easily). This is what Pope Benedict was describing when he said, “this process is always open-ended; love is never “finished” and complete; throughout life, it changes and matures, and thus remains faithful to itself" (Deus Caritas Est, 17).