What is Love?
As kids, my sisters and I would bop our heads to Haddaway’s song “What is love.”
The song is upbeat and makes you want to dance, but when you take a moment to look at the lyrics we read a tragic love story. Haddaway sings of loving a girl who won’t love him back. The pursuit of love, especially when it’s not reciprocated, mostly ends in heartache.
Today in our Gospel the famous “L” word surfaces. Jesus says, “You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
The Greek word used here is agape.
Agape love is a self-sacrificial one that takes pleasure in the other. So Jesus’ words today challenge us to more than just being on ‘good terms’ with your enemy, but Jesus is calling us to wish well of our enemies and to take pleasure in their delight. That’s pretty radical of Jesus!
Our Gospel message today will continue to challenge us until the day we meet our Creator face-to-face, simply because Jesus is inviting us into a divine love. This divine love can never fully be realised while we’re here on earth but it’ll come to its fullness in the next life.
Divine love lets the sun rise on good and bad men alike. Divine love does not claim credit for loving those who do not return love. Divine love is ready to greet even the stranger.
Although it might not be realised in this world, loving as God loves is still our vocation, mission and challenge. For without love we fall into the trap of revenge (“eye for an eye”), selfishness (“let them have your cloak as well”) and lack of generosity (“if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away”).
Love transforms, and our world is in need of transformation!
This coming Wednesday we begin Lent. This period in our Liturgical calendar calls us back to our roots by stripping back all the distractions and noise of our days.
Lent is an amazing opportunity to turn back to God and embrace Jesus’ divine and radical love.
As we take up our disciplines for Lent, may we remember our relationships and especially our enemies, that this season might be a time where we practice reconciliation and charity. Haddaway’s question misses the mark, for love is not a thing but in the Christian worldview is a person. Who is love? God is love. May we use our Lenten observance to learn to love like our God.