Friday, 19th Week in Ordinary Time
I have a friend who summarizes her “love life” using lyrics of some songs: It starts with: “Is this love? Feeling restless inside… wanting you to be always by my side…” It develops into: “Can’t help falling in love” and “Can’t fight this feeling anymore.” Then the mood changes… it turns out to be: “Feelings… nothing more than feelings… trying to forget my feelings of love.” Then the angst, the anger, the bitterness: “You have no right to ask me how I feel… You have no right to speak to me so kind… now that we are living separate lives.” Then the sad reality sets in: “Once upon a time, I was falling in love… Now, I’m only falling apart… There’s nothing I can do… Total eclipse of the heart.” And, according to my friend, her love life ends with: “You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’… Now it’s gone, gone, gone…”
What is the common denominator of the songs I mentioned? They say, in one way or another, that love is a feeling. “Love is feeling.” That is a most 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. Kasi nga kapag “tuyo na ang damdamin,” wala na ring pag-ibig. 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 commitment… a 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.”
The deepest spiritual purpose, the fundamental vocation of married couples, is to mirror to the world what God is like: God who is Love. The purpose of Christian marriage is to symbolize Christ’s love for the Church. The Church asks you, my dear married couples, to read your marriage spiritually: that is, to realize that your marriage is not about you; rather, it is a vehicle through which God’s purposes are being worked out, being fulfilled.