All Actions Must Be Rooted in Love
Today’s second reading features one of several of St. Paul’s teaching on love. He writes some powerful definitions of what it means to love in all of three verses in the Bible.
St. Paul teaches that love is the fulfillment of the law, so if we are people of love we are doing what God asks us to do. We are by default following all the commandments and we are living the covenant. Therefore, our focus is better to be on what is the loving thing to do instead of what is the sinful thing I should not do. If you are focus on the loving first, you will not be focus on sinning.
So how do we define loving.
Pope St. John Paul II in Veritatus Splendor points out that in the Gospels when the rich young man asks Jesus what he must do to attain eternal life, Our Lord responds with the commandments pertaining to love of neighbor. Specifically, he says to him: You shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself. The latter interestingly enough is not one of the ten commandments, but it is one of the two on which the ten is based.
St. Paul in our passage today sums it up in the simple sentence: love does no evil to the neighbor.
In in Corinthians 13 he defines it simply as:
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,d 5 it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,e 6 it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.f
He famously begins that passage by explaining that if we do not have love, then we are a noisy gong a clanging symbol. We may do doing good things, but they will not be as effective or even effective at all because they are not done with love.
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that love, or as he calls it, charity directs us to our last end our ultimate destiny. So when we act in charity, we act as we were destined to act.
So we have an understanding of what love is and what it looks like.
Let us look at it from another perspective. Love is the soul of your action.
Love is what gives your action direction in accordance with whom you are. You can do great things and not do them directed by love, they will not be as effective and may be quite dangerous and destructive even though you feel you are doing the right thing. That is because our actions to be fully human and fully in accordance with our relationship with God has to be done in love.
What is causing problems in our country? People are seeing the need to make great changes but they are not choosing to make them with love, only with trying to make things the way they feel they should be.
Love needs to be the motivator of our actions in order to make them truly effective. How do we make love the motivator of our actions? We are people of prayer. It is there in our prayer we learn how to act using love as the soul of our actions. We also learn how we act when love is not the soul of our actions.
What do we see going on in our country with many people who reject our faith trying to shut down our faith. They want our society to act without rooting actions and decisions in the soul of human life which is love?
The protests the violence going on in our country are rooted in making changes but the actions are not rooted in love. The causes of many of these protests are likewise rooted in actions taken without love.
If the focus of your action is safety, you will not be acting in love. Love is sometimes a personal risk.
The more each of us roots our actions in love, the more we create a more loving society. The more our society is rooted in love, the more life giving it is.
This means that we cannot be focused on the right thing as much as the loving thing and let the loving thing lead us to do the right thing. You are familiar with the famous quote: There is no greater treason than to do the right thing for the wrong reason. It is based on the words of the character Thomas Becket from Alfred Tennyson’s Murder in the Cathedral. The quote is true. Intellectually, something may be correct but it is an action that has no root in the soul. So it may be the right action but it is done without love. This by the way was Becket’s exact dilemma, overthrow the king or die a martyr. The latter was the loving act the former was doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
It is when we do the loving thing and the right thing that the two elements are congruous. So how do we love? Do no evil to your neighbor. Why do we love, it is our final destiny. What happens if we do not love? We are nothing but a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal. We may do great things but without love they will be either ineffective or dangerous.
So, do not evil and pray that you may know how to love. It takes a lifetime to learn.
d Eph 4:2 / 1 Cor 4:6, 18; 5:2; 8:1. e 10:24, 33; Phil 2:4, 21; 1 Thes 5:15. f Prv 10:12; 1 Pt 4:8. * The final paragraph announces its topic, Love never fails (1 Cor 13:8), then develops the permanence of love in contrast to the charisms (1 Cor 13:9–12), and finally asserts love’s superiority even over the other “theological virtues” (1 Cor 13:13).  New American Bible. (2011). (Revised Edition, 1 Co 13:4–8). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.