“But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’”(Mark 6:37)
In all human languages, it could be said that the most popular phrase is the combination of those three words – ‘I love you.’ There is almost no song, movie or novel where this phrase does not occur. However, a good majority of people do not even know what these words mean, or better put, everyone seems to have their own unique interpretation of love.
In today’s first reading, John speaks about love saying: “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8) In this way, John makes us understand that, firstly, that love is the essence of our worship of God (we cannot claim to even know God if we do not love) and secondly, that God is love. If God is love, it means that love is not just an emotion; love is not merely a feeling of physical attraction towards someone and it cannot be solely exclusive to just one person.
St. John show us that ‘Love is giving; giving sacrificially even without receiving anything’. St. John says: “In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world… In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10). We did not love God – humanity was at enmity with God yet God so loved the world (we, his enemies) that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Cf. John 3:16)
Here is the full implication of the above: Love is giving our very best to our enemies; those who have no regard for us, those who hate us. Love is giving freely and selflessly to others; not those we are attracted to and more importantly, not those we expect to receive from. So if you stopped giving just you are not appreciated or the person does not reciprocate, it means there was never any atom love in you. You were just being a merchant.
Love is kindness to others – a kindness that gives them the freedom to accept or reject; to reciprocate or to hate in return and more importantly, this kindness continues even when the other party responds with hatred. In our Gospel passage, we see that love goes beyond merely wishing good for others; it requires practical giving! The disciples told Jesus to send the multitude away to buy food for themselves but Jesus said: “you give them something to eat” Love is giving people something to eat especially people we don’t even know.
Note that these people who ate the five loves and two fish would later walk away from Jesus when he spoke to them about the Holy Eucharist – giving them His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. Come to think of it. Did Jesus abandon his public ministry after this incidence? Not at all. He continued to give; He continued to love. Think of the many sins we commit on a daily basis yet God never stops being kind towards us. Is this not love? Love is forgiving constantly and continuously; as St. Paul would say: “love never ends” (1st. Corinthians 13:8)
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, grant that I may revive my prayer life this New Year. Amen.