“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9-11)
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 more than a feeling of physical attraction towards someone.
St. John shows us that love is giving; giving sacrificially. St. John says: “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 4:10). 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 it was just business; not love.
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, help me to understand what love is and to love others as you loved us. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 John 4:7-10, Ps. 72:1-4,7-8, Mark 6:34-44).