As I have loved you, so you also should love one another
God is love. More specifically he is the ground of all love. By the virtue of being created in his image and likeness, we share in his love. A further example of God’s love is made clear when in the fullness of time he sent his only begotten Son to die so we can live. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
The claims just made do not even begin to scratch the surface of the concept of love, because to truly understand love is to understand God. Our mere mortal minds do not have the capacity to know God that deeply, for that will be our task throughout eternal life.
Even with the caveat, it doesn’t suggest human beings in the world cannot experience a deep understanding of God’s love through analogy. By analogous thought, things can be similar while at the same time be different. Therefore, when we love one another, we gain a greater understanding of God, who is love through analogy. Consider it a learning experience about love. When we love another, the love shown to our neighbor is strengthening our understanding of the love of God simultaneously.
This notion came quite clear to me a while ago, when I observed a mother and child in together in church. The daughter, already a teenager, was obviously born with down’s syndrome. As the two sat in the pew before Mass started, an observable bond and familiar interaction was quite noticeable. The teenager and the mother were totally engrossed in each other’s company. It appeared at the very moment, nothing else in the world seemed to matter to the two. The market could have crashed, their house could have burned down, they could have won millions in the lottery— it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that tender moment of love exchanged between mother and child. I hardly think that our Lord’s commandment of loving one another was a lesson that these two needed to hear.
I couldn’t help to reflect on this further, that once a mother, always a mother. And the strength of that bond between those two transcends almost anything else we can experience. It is probably, the closest example we have to the true meaning of love. In essence the love between mother and child is a glimpse; a veritable window into the mystery of God’s all abounding love that he has for each of us. If you have your doubts about God’s love for you, I would hope that you would be graced to experience the healthy relationship between mother and child in its most intimate moments.
Even if the child has grown to be an adult, the love a mother has for her child usually doesn’t diminish with time. In a small farming town in Iowa a report of a garage fire hit the local newspaper along with the death of a fifty-year-old man. The newspaper article only reported the facts about the fire and death and it was left up to an oral recounting of the incident where the other side of the story was told.
One local authority who came and spoke with the victim’s mother, now in her eighties, had the grim responsibility of updating the woman about her son’s condition. We were told the woman asked about her now deceased son in ways which was as though the mother was speaking about her adult son as a vulnerable child, the bond of love was so deep. The elderly mother never stopped loving her son from the moment he was born to the day he tragically died.
In these two true stories, the two mother’s love have shown us a small sliver of the love God has for all his creatures. No one is too damaged, old or otherwise to be beyond the love of God. Hopefully, a better understanding of how God loves you becomes a bit clearer. No one better summarizes this point as does St. Therese of Lisieux, “The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.”