The Greatest of These is Love
by Jim Murphy

It is said that if you want to know a personís heart, listen to what she or he says when she, he, knows that she, he, is going to die. Time is short. There is not time for the extraneous. People talk about what is most on their mind, what is most important to them.

During the last supper Jesus had only a few brief and precious hours left with His disciples. Their journey of three years together was coming to an end, and their small group was about to be rocked with the death of its leader. There certainly were many things that Jesus could have talked about with His disciples. He could have told them ways to effect healings or drive out evil spirits. He could have used those last hours to help the apostles organize the infant Church. Jesus could have given them advice on how to debate with the pharisees, Certainly these things were all important. Yet Jesus did not address any of these issues. He used this last meal with His friends to talk about something more basic, something much more important..."as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Live on in my love."

Love was the Masterís priority. He told them that the greatest commandment of all was to love God, and the second most important commandment was to love oneís neighbor. He knew that if His disciples could embrace this most basic, yet difficult virtue, everything else would follow in time. Conversely, if the Church could not love, nothing else they could do would really matter.

Love is of God. It flows from His very heart. It is the essence of which He is. Every action of God comes out of love. If we are serious about being close to our God, we must draw close to love.

The Church, and the individual Christian is being transformed into the likeness of God. If love is who God is, then love is what we must become.

Love is a universal longing throughout the human race. We were created to need it and we are fulfilled only when we have it, are transformed by it, and in turn, give it. A human being is not fully a human person without this virtue at work in their lives. Loving God and others is the only way to find fulfillment in our human destiny.

Yet as much as all of us need love, it is something which eludes many. We have mistaken attraction, lust, neediness for attention or security, only to be disappointed when we discover what we were building our lives on was not love at all but only a counterfeit feeling. The authentic virtue of love is described by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians:"Love is patient and kind. It is not jealous or pompous. It is not inflated. It is not rude, it does not seek it's own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury. It does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, and endures all things. Love never fails".

We can see by Paulís description that love is more than a flight of emotion. It is stronger than a surge of feeling. It is deeper than a superficial interest. it is committed, strong, deliverate, and persevering. It has the very qualities of God.

When love, true Godly love touches a person...the change is astounding. Many is the sinner who, touched by the love of God was transformed into a saint. Legion are the broken, wounded and needy who have been healed by the gentle yet powerful love of God. The gap is crossed, the void in the human heart and spirit is filled.

Every true follower of the Master must embrace, or rather be embraced by this reality. Just as Jesus warned Peter that unless he allowed the Christ to wash His feet, he could have no fellowship with Him, those who refuse to allow the master to bathe them in His love will not be able to remain with Him.

Yet, for many of us, these are obstacles to received this gift of love. Some people feel that they are not worthy of love. Others have a hard time admitting that they need the love. Still others have satisfied themselves with a pseudo-love and are not even interested in receiving the true gift.

Yet, Godís love for us is strong. It will overcome all obstacles. It will silence all objections. It will calm all rebellions. One has only to cry out to Divine Love, admitting that these is a need for it, in order to have it come close and embrace the human spirit.

Yet receiving Divine Love is not the fulfillment. One must yield to the prompting and actions of Love. One must allow God to change what needs to be changed, root out what needs to be removed, heal what needs to be healed and instruct what most needs to be taught. Let love have its effect in you!

Even transformation is not the end of loveís journey. Once it has flowed from God's heart, and has changed you, it must now flow from you to others. Do not be discouraged by your inability to love others. Rather, trust in the power of Divine Love, confessing your weakness before the Lover of Souls. Ask God to love others through you since you are incapable of doing it by yourself. God loves such an honest and humble prayer. He will speedily answer you, pouring such a sweet love for others (His love for others), into you that it will not be able to be contained within your heart but will burst forth, rushing to the person in need of this flood of Divine Grace.

The pattern is reliable; We must first yield to Love, be transformed by Love, then share Love. By doing so, we are placing ourselves in the stream of Love that flows boundlessly from the heart of God, carrying us in this stream to the person who, like us, also needs Godís touch. May many hearts receive that Divine Love through you, and may you rejoice to feel its action in your own heart.

(this article was taken from the ICCRS Newsletter, July-August 1999 issue with permission)