by BCBP Editor

By Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
heart of love
February is labeled as a month of love, mainly because the 14th of the month is Valentine’s Day. All through the month vendors are trying to convince us to buy red roses, red strawberries, big red lollipops, and other items decorated in bright red colors. But to me, love is not a lot of red-hued flowers or gift boxes of chocolate-covered cherries (my favorite!). Love is born of God and is a matter of the heart!

One of my favorite, wonderfully inspiring books is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. In Book III, chapters 5 and 6, he writes about love. He writes about love of and for God, and in the light of this month of love, I would like to share some of his thoughts with you.

“The wise lover does not consider so much the lover’s gift, as the giver’s love.” This is a truth we should take to heart, especially in this day and age when we tend to put more emphasis and value on how much the gift costs and how many gifts we receive rather than how much does the giver really give us of his/her love.
love of God
“Love is born of God; in the end, it rests in nothing other than God. A person who loves may soar, run and rejoice; he is free and nothing holds him back. He does not look at the gifts he receives, but he turns himself beyond all gifts to the Giver. … Because love believes that it can accomplish anything, it does.”

“Love is swift, honest, devout, joyous and pleasing; love is strong, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, courageous. Love is never self-seeking, for when we seek ourselves, we abandon love. Love is watchful, humble and upright; it is not soft, not frivolous, not given to empty things; it is sober, chaste, steadfast, calm, and it always stays alert. Love is … devout and grateful to God, always trusting and hoping in him, even when it cannot taste him, for one does not know love without pain.”

What is love? Does my love for God and for others measure up to this description? In what ways can I increase the quality of my love? February is a time that we should set aside to ask ourselves the hard questions about love and how God’s love for us and our love for Him colors our lives.

Love is God-given and God-commanded. Right from the beginning of time during creation, God created man and woman for love. On the mountain top in the desert in Moses’ presence, He began the 10 commandments with Love. Jesus in the New Testament emphasized many times that loving God and loving neighbor/others is an obligation we are commanded to follow for life.

What does all this mean? We have been created out of love, for love, and with the calling to love God. God is not so concerned with external show; He is more concerned with the intentions of the heart. Our words and our actions reflect the state of our heart. If we love Him, our words and our actions should show to all that we have a heart like His, a heart of love, of mercy, and of compassion and love for others. What God expects from us is what he cannot create on his own – our love. He has given us the freedom to choose – to love unconditionally, or to love with conditions, or not to love at all.
love in God's heart
Love is a matter of the heart. In another one of my favorite books, “The Prophet” by Lebanese philosopher Kahlil Gibran, he says that we should not say, “God is in my heart,” but that “I am in the heart of God.” To me, this is such a sublime statement and reminds me what love, true love, is meant to be. Not that I love someone, or someone loves me, but that we are in each other’s heart. Jun is in my heart, and I am in the heart of Jun, my husband of 51 years! Our life together clearly shows that love IS a matter of the heart.

The choice to love, or not to love, is ours. As we look back and reflect on our lives I am sure that each of us can appreciate how our hearts have grown over time as we have chosen to love and allowed God’s love to lovingly embrace us. As we look at and reflect on our growth (or stagnancy, as the case may be) in our character qualities, we can always trace our development back to our choices and how much we have loved, as well as how much we have allowed God to love us.

We need to admit and accept that love, especially God’s love, is the most important thing in our lives. Love should be the foundation for everything we do, think and say. Without love our lives would be so empty and lonely. We need to give and share love, even more than we need to receive love. And this kind of selfless and wonder-filled love cannot and should not be viewed only in terms of red roses, boxes of chocolates, gifts, special dates with our loved ones, and greetings of sweet sayings during this “love” month.

Yes, love is born of God and it most definitely is a matter of the heart. So let us choose to love God, to love ourselves and others, to live in love, and to share our love, not only on February 14 and during this “love” month, but all the year round.

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