Christmas is around the corner, the feast of love per se – or? All you need is love – a well-known song of the Beatles from July 1967 was written by John Lennon. Those who do not experience love, or who have been deprived of love for a long time, become mentally crippled and are physically harmed. We humans need, yes we live by and for, love.
„Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.“ – the first letter of John tells us. Love/loving is – maybe now, first of all, a state that lets us immerse ourselves in a certain bliss. Love is a state of security, confidence, that gives security and protection. And it strikes sometimes very suddenly and with full force.
There it is all at once, that feeling of enjoyment, of affection, of “butterflies in the stomach”. – But that’s not the real love most of the time, because real love takes time and examination and it needs to grow. Often we have a very romantic idea of love. This is not surprising, because in the lyrics of songwriters and writers, in films, novels and plays love is almost always transfigured and presented as the highest of all feelings. Everything just seems to be about happiness and wellbeing, the “butterflies in the stomach” and the tender affection. The world is seen through pink glasses; everything is vain, bliss and sunshine. “And they all lived happily ever after,” it says at the end of the fairy tales.
But this very simple-minded view of love, which could better be described as being in love, usually lasts only briefly. Then comes the routine and the everyday life with all its problems and challenges. It is now important to work on the project of love, to give it new impulses time and time again, because love has to be cultivated.
Love is a living thing. It grows when it gets the right food. However, love can be painful too. For example, if love is the bridge over difficult situations of life one must neither under estimate nor overestimate the carrying capacity of that bridge. Love is also as tender as a butterfly in the wind. And as I said before, it has to be taken care of, because often love is like a delicate little plant that a rough gust of wind could take its life. If this care stops, love turns into the negative. For if one’s wishes are no longer fulfilled for a long time, the respect, the tenderness, the understanding, etc. are missing or withheld, love can turn into disappointment, indifference and also hatred.
It is also said , “He who does not love himself can not pass on love.” Only when we are at peace with ourselves, accepting ourselves as we are, can we pass love on. Because only then is the necessary respect and insight available, which takes away the peak of the situation and makes the situation bearable. And so Pope Francis teaches: “True love is love and you let love yourself …. what is important in love is not our love, but to let God love you.” For him, the key to love is ” …. not our activity. It is the activity of the greatest and the source of all powers in the universe: the activity of God.”
“It’s the same with love as with the clothes. Both need a little leeway, otherwise, you feel restricted. “– says a proverb. Love lives on giving, and now and then, from a little taking, – the emphasis clearly is on “little” here! Because true love is always selfless, it is never bound to reclaim. Counter-transactions are not the thing of love. Love expresses itself through obvious gestures and deeds that are not questioned – and a sincere warmth and cheerfulness. Anyone who has experienced them with full force can never really escape their power from this point on.
We Christians believe that the love of God with all your heart, mind and strength and love for one’s neighbor are the two most important things in life. Saint Augustine summed this up when he wrote, “Love God and do what you want.” The apostle Paul glorified love as the most important virtue of all. In the famous poetic interpretation in 1 Corinthians, he wrote: ” Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. “(1 Cor 13: 4-7) The love that has always occupied the people is also found in the Holy Scripture, where love is refered to in over 400 places.
Love is not just related to us humans. As many behavioral researchers have long recognized in their scientific work, love also plays a role among animals. It is a gift from God to this world, and we are invited to discover, accept and bestow it forward. This can be the beginning of a wonderful and unparalleled relationship.
Those who have achieved true love give respect and attention, have patience, and will enjoy their beloved opposite. This is especially true for our relationship with God. Also, this love should be, like every relationship, groomed and developed. Love has comforting and challenging sections, too. But only those who have never really experienced love will never miss her.
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Christmas is around the corner – the festival of love is very close – and thus again the call of God – „I want to be with you, I want to be among you.“ An invitation to ALL! Whoever accepts this will notice how the world suddenly receives a friendly, yes, loving and trustworthy face , a face of love that we should definitely open up to!
At the end of this four impulses for Advent, I want to thank very much by Kenzia Drake and Sabin Ormaza. Without their help in translation and helpful remarks for a good English and Spanish, these lines would be not possible to publish.