St Augustine tells us that, “Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run; we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.”
Isn’t that what we seek most in life – to love and be loved? Could love be the answer to the most commonly asked question; what is the meaning of life? Considering St. Augustine’s words above, we hear him telling us that love is the true goal of our mortal lives. That once we find it, true love, we are at peace. We hear also that love is its own reward.
Monsignor Ronald Knox tells us in his book In Soft Garments that, ‘Love is essentially the effort to sacrifice yourself, to immolate yourself, to another person.’
My immediate thought when I first read this was that these very words defined Christ’s Passion and his sacrifice on the cross of our salvation for love of us. Christ died that we may live out of love for us. The message for us that true love is a complete and selfless giving of one’s self is unmistakable. True love, unlike lust and passion, does not ask, “What’s in it for me?”
If Monsignor Knox defined love, then how is Christian love defined?
One thought is that it is loving God and through Him, recognising all humanity is created in His image and therefore deserving of dignity, loving our fellows. After all, Christ tells us in Matthew (22:36 – 40), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ‘This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Another thought is that we seek the fulfillment of our love for God by loving those around us, and to those in need by offering love in the form of charity. Charity, we are told, is love.
Yet, another thought is to emulate Christ’s love for us. In fact, Christ tells us in the Gospels to “love one another as I have loved you”.
So now, where have our rambling thoughts brought us? What is Christian love?
Is it love of God? Yes. Is it love of our brothers and sisters, fellow children of God, our Creator? Yes. Is it charity? Yes again. Is it offering ourselves in service to, and in prayer for, others? Yes. It is all these things.
Lastly, is it a complete and selfless giving of one’s self to (and for) another? That is our endeavour. Love is our goal.