What is love? Poets, musicians, and philosophers have spilled much ink over the centuries describing what love is and what it means. Scripture tell us that God is love, and St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians that love is patient, kind, etc.
But what does it mean to love? What does it look like when we love someone? Monsignor Stuart Swetland answered these questions on a recent Go Ask Your Father™. He said:
“Love is to want, will, and work for the true good of the other. So to love your neighbor is to want, will, and work for the true good of your neighbor.
Even with your enemy you can do that. To love your enemy is to want, will, and work for the true good of your enemy. Now, often the true good of an enemy is that they convert, that they change their wicked ways. Because a true enemy, if you are an upright person doing the good, the true, and the beautiful and living in a way to unify all of humanity, your enemy is usually someone who is doing something vile or wicked or trying to harm innocent people.
So often, the main thing that you want for an enemy is that they convert, that they be caught and they be given the opportunity to change their wicked behavior that leads them to be your enemy.
So your definition of love, which you said is to seek the good of the other, I think is exactly right. That is what we should do. And you can even apply that to love of self. Because proper love of self is to seek the true good for oneself, not the illusionary good that the world offers us. It’s not about power, and wealth, and glory, and pleasure and all those things. It’s about the true good of human flourishing, full participation in the goods that perfect persons.
You can even apply it to love of God. Love of God is to want, will, and work for the true good for God. The true good for God is His will. So another way to talk about loving God is to want God’s will to happen. We want His kingdom to come. That’s what we pray for when we pray the Our Father. ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done’ is another way of expressing the moral truth of how we should live out our love of God.
Now, by the grace of God, we are given a participation in divine life, so we can also love Him with the supernatural love of charity and grace that He gives us, that allows us to participate in His very divine life. But that’s a supernatural gift that is infused in us – the faith, hope, and charity that comes in baptism.”
Listen to the full conversation below: