ST. BENEDICT — Growing up, we have so many questions. Young children often need their parents to explain to them how, who, what, when, or why. Sometimes when our children ask questions, even the simple ones, it’s hard to explain in a way that they can understand or to guide them in their own discovery of the answer.
The question we can raise at this time with open hearts is “What is God’s plan for human love?” It’s a simple question but one many people are not asking. In fact, as a culture, the question seems to have become irrelevant. Yet the question is critical, especially for us who are called to be the light of the world, leaven in the dough, a city set on a hilltop.
We adults need to be clear. Jesus shows us the path to God’s plan for human love. God’s plan for love in our life is a dynamic reality guiding us like a light in the dark.
While speaking of love, it is “right and just” to wipe away any fanciful notions of love in a world deeply wounded by original sin. Love does not mean we will not suffer and it certainly is not pleasure. Along the way, we also ask “Why is there suffering? or “How do I become happy?” God’s plan for human love is seen in our very bodies and can be learned through the commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, praying the rosary and the teachings of the Church.
To embrace God’s plan for human love, a few ingredients are essential. Just as you cannot make pumpkin pie without pumpkin so you cannot understand and live God’s plan for human love without a heart willing to sacrifice for love of others, and doing it all with joy, not resentment. Abstaining until marriage, living chastity according to one’s state in life, serving the poor, actively working for a more just and God reverencing society, developing a daily prayer life and strong sacramental life, teaching our children to love the Church as the Bride of Christ — all these are not possible unless we come to know Love as gifted to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is not simply a fact but a living reality welling within us from the grace of baptism.
If you are struggling with the duties and demands of love then maybe this is an opportunity to give your life more deeply to others. As you grow in the gift of yourself to others in love, a miraculous movement will begin to bubble up in your life, for when your “free time” or “your plans” are taken away by the daily realities of life then you will live in peace as you will already be broken and given in love and for Love. You will rejoice for being called to be love.
God’s plan for human love is simple and beautiful. There is something almost healing for the human soul in the combination of simple and beautiful: A rising sun behind a snow-capped mountain, the fall leaves floating down river, a sun setting over the ocean, the stars brightly shining at night, the laughter of children. In all of these there is order, simplicity and stunning beauty that can nourish our souls and turn our hearts to wonderment and praise of God. Like a bird soaring in the wind, so are our souls when they are able to live for God and in harmony with God’s plan of Love. In Jesus, Love has set us free through his life, death, and resurrection; yet for what? Well, for us to Love; to learn love from the Child Jesus, the Crucified Jesus, the Risen Jesus so that we can live this elevated, self-less and pure love.
Jesus is God’s plan for human love and he guides us through the Church to be able to simply love. And when we love like Jesus in harmony with the Bride of Christ then we will know the fullness of joy.
The writer, a formation director at Mount Angel Seminary, attained a sacred theology bachelor’s degree from the Gregorian University in Rome in 2007. He has served in parishes in western Oregon.