LOVE IS LEARNED
Almost no one thinks that love is something that we should go about learning little by little throughout life. Most people surely hold that human beings know how to love spontaneously. That’s why you can detect so many mistakes and too much ambiguity concerning that mysterious and attractive world of love.
There are those who think that love consists fundamentally in being loved and not in loving. That’s why they go through life pushing themselves to succeed in getting someone to love them. For these people, what’s important is to be attractive, attain being nice, have an interesting conversation, make oneself loveable. Generally they end up being all too unhappy.
Others are convinced that loving is something simple, and what’s difficult is finding nice people that they could love. These only draw near to whoever seems simpatico. Whenever they don’t find the response anticipated, their «love» vanishes.
There are those who confuse love with desire. They reduce it all to meeting someone who satisfies their desire for companionship, affection or pleasure. When they say «I love you», in reality they’re saying «I desire you», «You strike my fancy».
When Jesus speaks of love for God and for neighbor as what’s most important and decisive in life, he’s thinking of something else. For Jesus, love is the power that moves life and makes it grow, since it can free us from loneliness and separation to make us enter into communion with God and others.
But concretely that «love our neighbor as we love ourselves» requires a true learning, always possible for one who has Jesus as Teacher.
The first task is to learn to listen to the other. Try to understand what that person is going through. Without that sincere listening of their suffering, needs, and dreams, true love is not possible.
Second is to learn to give. There’s no love where there’s no generous self-giving, disinterested offering, gift. Love is completely the opposite of cornering, taking possession of the other, using them, taking advantage of them.
Lastly love demands learning to forgive. Accept the other with their weaknesses and mediocrity. Don’t take your love or friendship away so quickly. Offer the possibility of getting back together over and over again. Return good for evil.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf