Love as gold standard

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

Just like in the financial world where the value of the different monetary units is determined in terms of gold, the quality and value of our spiritual life, our relation with God and with others and everything related to it, is determined by love, the love that comes from God as is fully revealed and shared with us by Christ.

Love has dominance over all the other values and virtues that govern our life. As St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” (13,13)

Even more, he said: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13,1-3)

Of course, Christ himself told us what the ultimate commandment is, what the ultimate good is that God wills for us. And that is no other than to love one another as he himself loved us. (cfr. Jn 13,34)

That is the new commandment that summarizes and perfects all the previous commandments God has given us, including the 10 commandments and the greatest commandment that Christ told those who questioned him about it.

The challenge now is how to develop this kind of love in all of us, since it is the be-all and end-all of our life. Do we at least make an effort to know what this love entails? Do we read the gospel and meditate on it regularly, asking always for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that we can at least be familiar with this kind of love and try to put it into practice?

More importantly, do we know how to convert all our thoughts, words and deeds, all our desires and concerns, our successes and failures, our business and politics and all the other mundane affairs and situations we have, into expressions of this kind of love? Unless we know how to fuse theory and practice about love, we would actually be not loving as we should.

We have to realize that all the other virtues can only be true virtues if they are inspired by love and if they lead us to grow more in love. Without love, these virtues would at best be apparent virtues only. They can have the appearance and feel of virtues, but they actually are not.

Genuine love can only be achieved if we identify ourselves completely with Christ who went all the way to offer his life on the cross for our sins, for our salvation. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lays down his life for his friends,” Christ said. (Jn 15,13)

And insofar as Christ is concerned, he has already done everything so that we can identify ourselves completely with him. He, in fact, made himself the “bread of life” so we can do nothing less than eat him and attain our most intimate union when he allows to enter into our own body not to be assimilated by our body, but rather the reverse, to assimilate us into his body, so that we can truly be one with him.

This happens in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist which, we must admit, is the most important thing we have in this life. In it we have Christ himself, we have all the merits of his redemptive love made available to us. He is all ours for the taking.