Something occurred to me recently which I think marks a step on my journey. Not one of the many little steps we experience all the time but a big step that gets you to a place that is your new normal. A landing zone, a hill you’ve secured. It is a place from which you can launch out on new missions and if you fall back you won’t fall farther than there.
Among all the news coverage of Easter – Mass at the Vatican, the articles, the blog posts and the Facebook memes – discussing what Easter means, I see more clearly now that it is mostly about one thing: LOVE.
It’s easy to hear the words that the Gospel and the life of Christ are about love, we all now the verses:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…”
“Love thy neighbor as yourself and pray for those who persecute you.”
“Love your enemies”
“God is love.”
“…Faith, Hope and Love and the greatest of these is Love.”
It’s easy to hear but what does it mean? Finally, it has sunk in a little bit.
Love, is not just the emotion we have for our spouse. It’s not just the feelings we have for our kids and friends. Saint Thomas Aquinas said, “Love is TO WILL the good of another.”
“To will” … to want … to pray for … to express … to act in a manner consistent with that intention … to show … to intentionally put aside other motivations and feelings.
So what is Easter about? It is about deciding in your own heart and mind to consistently act one way, out of love, towards everyone and to reject acting in any other manner.
Since love is not just an emotion but an act of the will you can choose love, even when you are angry, or hurt, or tired, or cranky. Interestingly, most negative emotions are just that – emotions – they are not chosen. Sure, you can choose to be selfish or angry but most of the time negative emotions are reactions to circumstances. But when you involuntarily feel an emotion if you recognize it and then choose to love, to will the good of the other, and then love will push back and crowd out the negative. Love casts our fear. It’s always been there and I’m just now starting to see it.
1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us.