I often hear college students and young people complain that, “Love hurts! It sucks!” Especially in a consumeristic culture, it is so easy for us to objectify and manipulate one another in an utilitarian way. Since the consumers have become codependent and consumed by the products that they have created, hence love has been cheapened and objectified. It has often become a cheapened version of casual exchanges that promise “love,” but only a pseudo, cheapened, shallow, and destructive version of it. It makes us feel good when the deeds are given and mutual feelings exchanged, but it leaves us empty, cheap, void, and hopeless, wanting to search for something more but is scared because we do not know how to seek it from what is being popularly portrayed and accepted. We have been given and taught a false version of love that gives more rise to suicidal and destructive behaviors and tendencies in our society! More and more young people hate themselves because they do not know who they are and do not have a healthy sense of self-worth except for what is flashy and captivating for the moment. All they ever know is how to satisfy and ease the pain with temporary satisfaction without knowing how to love, be loved, and feel belonged to one another in a genuine, transparent, and vulnerable way.
Think about it! Love is not real unless it hurts, because it is much more than some hedonistic or casual exchanges. It is much more than lip service, emotional, psychological, or bodily satisfaction. Love hurts because it requires so much effort to love even when it does not make any sentimental sense!
The Lord Jesus Christ chose to die for us while we were still stuck in our own arrogance and sinfulness. He chose to die for those who hated Him, those who wanted Him crucified, those who betrayed and rejected Him, and even for those who never knew Him. He died for you and me! He died for us because His love is real, not just some lip service or empty words. He did something that only the Creator who genuinely loves His creation could ever do. He did what many other man-made gods and ancient idols would not do for their subjects. He made the radical choice that only the true God who is passionately in love with His subjects could ever contemplate and willing to endure.
His love is real and it was sealed by His own sacrificial giving of His very self, even if it meant to endure the cruel punishment, pains and sufferings imposed to the worst criminals. If we are ever powerful and omnipotent, we would just snap a finger to make things right or ask someone else to do the deed or take care of the problem. Yet, He willed to bear all the pains and sufferings because His love is real. He did not take any shortcuts! The Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said in his Good Friday‘s homily: “All men were born to live, but only one was born to die!” Christ‘s resolve to die for us was not dependent on whether we accept or praise Him for His actions. His resolve was based on His real, genuine love for us, a love that we oftentimes cannot understand, grasp, and will not choose at times.
His love for us was not dependent on the glory of the crowd on Palm Sunday or the hatred of the chief priests, rabbis, and bystanders on Good Friday. The only reason why Good Friday is good because Christ chose the goodness of His love for us! It is good because He chose not to take retribution on the evils given to Him, instead transformed them with real love in the giving of Himself. His sacrificial love made it good! Therefore, we as the people of faith and His disciples, need to ask ourselves a few real, practical questions.
- How can we genuinely love without simply making it lip service or a word to be thrown out?
- How can we make our relationships, our homes, and parishes be true manifestations of divine love?
- What do we really mean when we talk about love and what can we do to put into practice what we say?
What was said at the Last Supper, “This is my Body — This is my Blood — Given up for you!” is realized on the Cross as well at each and every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They were not simply words! Christ put what He said into actions. He meant every word He said… and practiced them, even if it meant to give His life so we can life! His love is real and sealed by His own sacrificial gift of Himself to us. Therefore, so should we in how we choose to love Him and one another as well.