What is Love?

Every evening, several TV channels run an ad for Shriners’ Hospitals for Children. Sometimes they can be a bit annoying, but some are very cute when featuring the children Shriners’ serves. In one of these commercials, the boy in the wheelchair asks, “What is love?” The children try to answer: “Love is when someone likes someone.” “Love is a new prostetical leg” (his word). “You have to call the love doctor.” And my favorite response, “I got nothin!.” Ah, isn’t that the truth for most of us. We got nothin!

I believe love is probably the most difficult emotion to define. Most of us can’t even put into words what we feel when we think we are in love. Ask the old folks who have been married fifty or more years what kept them together, and even their answers are somewhat vague. Although I enjoy the responses, She’s always right, never go to bed angry, get used to apologizing, learn to laugh at yourself, etc. My guess is that it goes much deeper than these responses. The human language just falls short.

John’s Gospel is full of love. Coupled with his discourses about the Bread of Life, we get the epitome of love, in the person of Jesus. While on earth, Jesus tried desperately to impart the essence of love to those who would listen. Sometimes it seemed that his followers caught on even before his disciples. The disciples got it over time, as did John, who lived the longest and wrote his Gospel after many, many years of reflection on his experiences with Our Lord.

Jesus’ final act of love, while with his disciples, was to let them know that, even after he returned to his father, they would not be alone. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate, will come to remind them of what Jesus was all about, and how to find the love. I especially like the fact that the Holy Spirit will not teach anything new, but will remind us of what Jesus said and bring us to an understanding. Part of that understanding is to forget the frail words, and put love into action. Put those unexpressed feelings into acts of love. It is genuinely a case of ‘actions speak louder than words.’

As the weeks go by and we look forward to Pentecost, hopefully, gathered together again as a community in our churches, open your hearts to the power of the Spirit to help you understand how you are to live and love as Jesus taught. “Come Holy Spirit” is a simple prayer, but it works! As time goes by and we learn to trust the Spirit’s guidance, we’ll no longer say, “We got nothin!” Yeah, we will have somethin!

God Bless.

Contact the author

Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.