What separates humans from all other life here on earth is our desire to love and be loved. Unique to us is our capacity to love, which is present in us not because of our own doing, but because God intentionally created us this way. This is what is meant by God saying "let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). Being made this way is both a gift and responsibility to us. How we choose to live is up to us, of course, but the ramifications of how we do so extend beyond this world into eternity.
Perhaps the most cherished aspect of love is its willingness to do what is difficult for another person. It's been said more than once that we can measure a person's love by his/her willingness to sacrifice for another person. For many people, especially the young, love is merely a feeling. However, Godly wisdom helps us to move beyond this naivety to realize that love is a mindset. It is an intentional direction of the will, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to continually act for the good of another person. This mindset overcomes the tendency, which at times is very strong, to focus on ourselves. The famous biblical passage about love reminds us that "love does not seek its own interest" (1 Cor. 13:5).
God never stops teaching us and reminding us about what true love is and what true love does. Every Christian, especially we Catholics, should have etched into our minds and hearts the words Jesus spoke upon the cross at Calvary. Through them we understand Jesus' feeling of absolute abandonment but also His mindset to look beyond himself to do the will of His Father. Jesus models for us "love does not seek its own interest" in the midst of the indescribable suffering He experiences because of our sins. This is revisited at every Mass for our benefit. During consecration, the priest repeats the words of Jesus: "this is my body given up for you!" Are we striving to love God in the same way and to the same extent?
If our love of neighbor is what God intends it to be, then our mindset is to selflessly act for their good also. We will make sacrifices and do what is hard because our love for them is selfless. As Christians, we Catholics know the spiritual needs of others are even more important than their physical needs. Just as we help the hungry and homeless, we need to help those who are living contrary to God’s teaching. We need to bring to them God’s truth and wisdom because of our love for them and not because of pride, politics, anger, etc. This was made unmistakably clear to us in our Scripture readings at Mass last weekend.
I have appointed you as a watchman… when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked, "O wicked one, you shall surely die" and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. (Ez. 33:7-8)
In His love,