Many country/western songs are about the search for love, but their lyrics really explain why we misinterpret the true meaning of love—and therefore end up “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.”
This idea of needing love that’s requited by someone else rather than required of us is where humanity goes wrong. True love is like God’s grace—freely scattered and sown (a great sacred song, by the way). One of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:3-10) offers the best definition of true love. It’s one of those Bible verses we hear at many weddings but never listen to very closely. It says WHY we’re always looking for love in all the wrong places. Paul tells us:
“If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.”
In short, “love” is meant to be a synonym for “life.” Love, as God intends it, makes one’s life HIS song. It gives meaning to our existence. In that light, we’re not looking for love, we’re helping others find it in how we treat the unlovable—just as Jesus devoted his life to the unsavable. God the Son’s perfect blend of God the Father’s power and love is the essence of the wisdom we read about in Sunday’s excerpt from the Book of Wisdom (Wis 12:13, 16-19):
Though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind.
Wisdom is the Spirit of God the Father. God the Son gives us access to the Spirit—thereby unifying us with the Holy Trinity. As we embody that spirit, we can’t help but be the place others find God’s love, as Paul told the Romans in Sunday’s second reading (Rom 8:26-27):
The Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.
Even when surrounded by evil, we cannot change who we truly are—who God intended us to be. This is why, when evil shows itself, and people wonder how God could allow it, the answer is, “WE are His answer to it,” as Jesus tells us in Sunday’s parable of the sower (Mt 13:24-43).
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. [The man told his workers]: ‘Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Until that harvest, we are to show people looking for God’s love how well it grows in one’s own native soil.