Love as gift and New Year’s resolution
In welcoming 2016, it may do us some good to reflect on the words of St. Paul in a letter of his to the Corinthians, where he listed the 16 qualities of love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Continuing, St. Paul enumerates the three cardinal virtues but singles out one: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). In the book of the Apostles, it is written: “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Note that “love” is the only word ever used in the whole Scripture to describe and define the greatness of Almighty God.
Going deeper, the Greeks taught us that there are four types of love—storge (the most basic form, such as the love between boss and subordinate), filia (the love between parents and children), eros (the romantic love between a man and a woman), and the greatest of all, agape (the selfless, unconditional love) such as that demonstrated by God, whose boundless love and infinite goodness led to the creation of life and in the sending of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to save mankind from death and sin through His passion and death, resurrection and ascension.
This Christmas season, let us contemplate God the Creator in His agape—love, give thanks and show our gratitude by giving love ourselves to our fellowmen not just during this season but, indeed, all through the 365 days of 2016 when we can practice all the 16 qualities of love.
In so doing, we will also fulfill the two greatest commandments taught by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: to Love God with all our mind and our strength, our heart and our soul; and the second which is like it—to love our neighbors as ourselves. The evangelist and apostle John reemphasizes this in 1 John 4:7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
More than a pope of mercy and compassion, more than a pope of the poor, His Holiness Pope Francis is a pope of love. He recently reminded us: “The world tells us to seek success, power, money. God tells us to seek humility, service and love.”
May love therefore be our “2-in-1” Christmas gift for 2015 and our 2016 New Year’s resolution for God and for our fellowmen who are all made in the image and likeness of God.
From our family to yours—a Christmas of love and a New Year of love!
—WILFRIDO V.E. ARCILLA, [email protected]
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