Personal Structure and Love

from the Daily Meditations of Cardinal Carlo Martini

Jesus and John

Jesus and John

Study for the Last Supper, © Copyright 1993 Becki Jayne Harrelson, The intimacy between Jesus and the beloved disciple John, is presented in a striking way in this cameo taken from; Study for the Last Supper, (Oils on stretched canvas) by Becki Jayne Harrelson. © Copyright 1993.

The fact that love is the indispensable root and seal on every aspect of Christian life makes it difficult to describe.

• Love is not univocal behavior. Rather, it is a context in which many behaviors mature (1 Cor. 13).

• Love is not unidirectional, but an interior sense or orientation which allows us to take the right direction in any circumstance.

• Love is a “rediscovery” of ourselves and every other person by the very act of “losing” ourselves in the arms of God.

Now, aiming at a closer description of love, we can say that it has a clear personal structure, in a double sense:

a) First of all in the sense in which it directly concerns the person. Love requires initiatives, plans and social interventions, but all beginning with a rediscovery and dedication of the person.

The personal attitudes of readiness, thankfulness, pardon, attentiveness, and anticipation all constitute the indispensable context in which concrete choices and acts of service mature.

From this point of view, volunteer work, which is founded upon the interior disposition of personal freedom, is a particularly significant expression of love.

b) Secondly, love has a personal orientation in the sense that it values and promotes the dignity of every person.

Charity enables persons to become neighbours, thereby breaking every discrimination

Charity enables persons to become neighbours, thereby breaking every discrimination

The Bible accounts (e.g., the parable of the Good Samaritan), confirmed by the many preferential choices for charity made throughout the centuries, enable us today to say that love reveals its pure, divine origins in the disarmed, disinterested unconditionality with which one welcomes every person.

Charity enables persons to become neighbours, thereby breaking every discrimination of race, culture, social condition and religion, giving preference to those who are rejected, conferring upon them the dignity and value which it’s rightfully theirs as fellow human beings.