Friday, 19th Week in Ordinary Time

            It is very common in the so-called love songs to hear the phrase “love is feeling.” “Love is feeling.” That is a very dangerous equation! Why? Because feelings come and go. So, we fall in love and we also fall out of love – without any conscious or deliberate decision on our part. No wonder so many starry-eyed young brides and bridegrooms, who entered into marriage on the presumption that they would ‘feel’ intense ‘love’ for the rest of their lives end up by separating within six months or a year. (Guillemette)

            Loving that is based on feeling can never be permanent, precisely because feelings come and go. Loving this way has brought about so much sadness, frustration, loneliness, depression and woundedness to the world.

            Jesus, in today’s gospel, offers a very different picture of what love is. For him, the true notion of love lies, not in feelings, but in commitmenta commitment which entails a separation from one’s family and a lifelong companionship through joy and sorrow – “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ‘till death do us part.”

            With this kind of love, one is able to say: “Even if you do not like me anymore, I still love you.” “Even if you refuse to forgive me, I still love you.” “Even if I do not need you anymore, I still love you.” “I love you not because of, but in spite of…” “Love is the only reason for me loving you…” “I have committed myself to loving you, no matter what.” Let me remind the married couples who are here that this is the essence of the marital vows you made on your wedding –and should be making every day for the rest of your life: the commitment to love one another…no matter what.

            It does not mean that such love is without feeling; on the contrary, it will be accompanied by a great variety of feelings. Aside from the ephemeral glow of romantic feeling, it will know tenderness, humor, concern, compassion. And many other feelings. But it will go beyond feelings; it will essentially be rooted in a free decision – a constantly renewed choice to affirm the other person at whatever personal cost. Knowing full well that such determination is, on the long run, the only road leading to lasting happiness.

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