(Homily on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus)
What is the best possible symbol of love? Not roses. Not chocolates. Not the heart shape. The very best symbol of love is the shape of the cross. Do we also get tired loving? Nakakapagod din bang magmahal? No, hindi nakakapagod ang umibig. Baka ang puso napapagod, pero ang love kailanman ay hindi marunong magpahinga. Do you think that a priest, like, me is also capable of falling in love? No exception, everybody loves and must love. When do we say that your love is already true love? How do we judge a heart to be in the right place and with the right person… and at the right time, at that?
Today, based from the Readings today on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I will teach you how to love rightly. We allow the Word of God to guide us to the right kind of love.
There are three ways to right loving – Attraction, Obligation, Inspiration. They are not to be taken as separate from each other. They must go together. Attraction alone is lust. Mere obligation is burdensome. Inspiration by itself could only be superficial. Love is about being attractive and attracted. It comes with a challenge to become responsible. And, the person who is in love is always inspired and inspiring as well.
Naturally, the beginning of love is attraction. You find something or someone pleasant. You keep an eye on the one individual over other else. Hence, you pick this someone over others. There is that act of choosing. In colloquial terms, this is what they mean by having crushes. “Bet ko to” as our young people would exclaim. This is reflected in the First Reading where the people of Israel appeared to be as distinct. “You are a people sacred to the Lord, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own” (Deut. 7:6-11).
Contrariwise, attraction could not be viewed as something passive. In fact and in truth, it is more active and dynamic. Hence the challenge is for one to become and remain attractive. There must be that conscious effort to continually beautiful. Huwag mong hahayan na nagiging losyang ang iyong sarili. By all means, take care of yourself before you get being taken for granted. A lady must always be lovely. A gentleman is rather more attractive by his character more than his physical looks. Both, must be attractive from outside and much more from within. True beauty is never just skin-deep.
The other dimension of right loving is obligation. This is beyond attraction. In fact, this facet of love is devoid of the niceties that allures somebody. This is rather difficult. You are just obliged to love. Period. You are obligated to love because the person is family to you. You just have to love your parents for that matter. No choice! You just have to love your siblings, no matter how revolting they are to you. You have to love your wife/husband until do you part because of the law and the covenant that you vowed yourself to.
The Second Reading reminds and obligates us to love. “… if God so loved us, we also MUST (emphasis mine) love one another.” Needless to say, we have become the one family of God. We are brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus. Hence, we must remain to be so, a family. “…. And whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
Lastly, right loving is about inspiration. This kind of inspiration is not romantic though. It is about the invitation of Jesus – “Come to me….and I will give you rest.” The Tagalog translation captures well our idea of inspiration – to rest is magpahinga. The root word of which is “hininga” (breath). This is inspiration. It comes come the latin word “inspirare” which means to breathe, to inhale and exhale. For this reason, to love as inspiration means actually about breathing. It is about life and giving life. This could well be the truest meaning of love. Kapag ang tao ay umiibig, ito ay nakakahinga at nakakapag bigay-buhay. Kung sa tingin mo sa isang relationship ikaw ay parang nasasakal na, mukhang malabo na pag-ibig ito. Worse, when there is already harm and violence committed then this ceases to be the right kind of love… Come to Jesus. Go back now to Jesus. Heed the invitation of Jesus to take your rest. To breathe anew. That is genuine inspiration.
In the end, these three things of loving are the very things that God has been manifesting to us. This is what has been communicated to us by the love of Jesus in his most sacred heart. What is there in us humanity that God allowed himself to be attracted to us endlessly? “What is man that you care for him?” I guess, we could also say that God has obligated himself to love us. “…if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” And finally, God must have known how tried and wasted we must have been and so, “Come to me….and I will give you rest.”