An Encouraging Word – I love you! Really?

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

Love never fails. I Corinthians 12

Well, Sunday is St. Valentine’s Day on the church of Hallmark’s calendar. Their other “religious” holidays include St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Halloween.

This year I decided to see how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defined the word “love.” Just as I suspected, they used a lot of Hallmark language to define the word, which we have thrown around so much in our culture that it has lost most of its meaning.

I noticed that there were lots of words about warm feelings for others — affection, attraction, attachment and admiration.

You have to read way down the list to get to “an unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.” Such an “unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern” for the good of others is “other focused,” regardless of what you get back, as is all true love.

Most people think of it in “self-focused” terms — how another person makes me feel and what they can do for me, as when they talk about “falling in and out of love.”

The test of real love is whether you can keep “an unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another” going, long after it stops feeling good. Good examples are parents who take care of their sick and special needs children or children who take care of their elderly parents — in both cases for years and years.

The first thing to note about the reading cited above is that Paul’s love definition contradicts everything TV and Hollywood has to say about love. Paul says that love is about patience, kindness and enduring hardship. Paul says that love is never jealous, pompous, inflated, rude, selfish, brooding, deceitful or quick-tempered. TV and

Hollywood are forever selling us the line that love is about feelings of attraction, that love is temporary and conditional, that love is about having one’s needs met and feeling warm and fuzzy.

TV and Hollywood stars, in general, don’t know a damned thing about love, no matter how much they talk about it! So why would anyone take advice from people in their 10th and 11th marriages, anyway?

If we want to know what love is, look at a crucifix.

So how does Jesus love us? Many people believe that God loves us when we are good, quits loving us when we are bad and starts loving us when we shape up. That is absolutely, flat-out, false.

Contrary to what many people believe, God loves us without condition, no matter what we do or fail to do, no “ands, ifs or buts” about it. Yes, we can reject God’s love, but there is nothing we can do to stop God from loving us.

Love is something we choose to do, not a feeling we have. If you really want to celebrate this Valentine’s Day, get out there and love somebody who can’t do a thing for you in return.

To read more from Father Knott, visit his blog:

Father J. Ronald Knott

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