Examples of LoveJune 20, 2012 No Comments
June 20, 2012 / MariaNews.com
Examples of Love
By Deacon Antonio Sandoval
Love is the centerpiece of our faith and the key that unlocks the door to true and lasting happiness. We learn about love from the example of authentic lovers. On several occasions I have heard the preacher in church say, “If you want to know what love is, look at Christ crucified.” Some have cited John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that all who believe in him might have life”, as an example of love.
When I think of someone voluntarily sacrificing their life to save another person out of love, I also think of Maximilian Kolbe. He was a Polish priest in a German concentration camp during World War II. Whenever a prisoner escaped, the Nazis would lineup the remaining prisoners and pull out of ranks every tenth person, place them in a cell, deprive them of food until they starved to death to discourage other prisoners from trying to escape.
One day a prisoner escaped from the camp. This time one of the prisoners selected for starvation pleaded for his life because he had a wife and children. To the surprise of the Nazi guards and everyone else, Father Maximilian Kolbe stepped out of ranks and offered to take the man’s place. The guards granted his request and he joined the other prisoners destined for the starvation cell. There he prayed and encouraged his co-prisoners until they all died except Father Kolbe. The German guards then gave him a hypodermic injection of carbolic acid to kill him. Father Kolbe’s sacrifice is an act of supreme love.
When I think of love, I also recall the story of Ruth in the Bible. A famine had come to the land of Israel and Naomi and her husband and their two sons moved to the land of Moab where life was not as difficult. After some time her husband died and her two sons married Moabite women. Then her two sons also died leaving Naomi with her two daughters-in-law. Better times came to Israel and Naomi decided to return to her homeland. She then encouraged her two daughters-in-law to return to their families. One of the daughters-in-law, Ruth, because of her great love for Naomi decided to go with Naomi instead. She said to Naomi, “Wherever you go I will go; wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Where you die I will die and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
What impresses me about Ruth’s love for Naomi is that it is a chaste love, but similar to the love between spouses, especially the love of a wife for her husband. Ruth desires to identify with Naomi and her people. She desires to have the same God and the same faith as Naomi. This strengthens the bond of her love. When Ruth says, “May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me”, this indicates to me that Ruth not only made a commitment to love Naomi; she also made a commitment to God to love Naomi. She was giving God permission to impose severe consequences on her if she did not keep her commitment.
These two stories of love tell me that God is a very important element of human love and that true love is stronger than death when God is the center of our human love relationships. Only God can give us the strength to love with true love.
Read more by Deacon Antonio here.
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