The Mission of Love

Categories: Around the Diocese,Synod,World Meeting of Families

The following is the second in a 10-part series focusing on the 10 themes of the preparatory catechesis for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 22-27 in Philadelphia.

By Amanda Zurface
For The Visitor

world-meeting-of-families-philadelphia-2015-logoThe Catholic Church wants to see your marriage succeed and be fruitful. The incredible reality of the church’s teaching on marriage and family life is that it sets Catholics apart from the rest of the world. The church guides us to that place of success and fruitfulness. How so? The church, in her wisdom, shows us exactly how we are to pinpoint real love.

As Catholics, we have learned that Jesus gave us an instruction and a mission in the Gospels to be open, to receive God’s love and to extend that love to others. Jesus specifically asked us to love our neighbors. He asked us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and to go so deep into service of the other that we arrive at a point where we love them as God loves them.

Have you ever thought that another image of that love, other than serving your neighbor at the local food shelf, also includes your marriage and loving your spouse as God loves them? While there are different images of God’s love depicted for us in Scripture — including God as healer, teacher, friend, father and king — marriage is actually the crowning image that depicts for us the intensity of God’s love and exactly how we are to love as he loves.

This imagery comes to life in Ephesians 5, where the marriage analogy of Christ and the church captures God’s love. We are called to identify with this selfless love, to recognize it and draw it out of others, especially our spouses. Within marriage, spouses are to live out “the greatest love story ever told.” They do this through sacrificial fidelity and by integrating compassion and patience, ultimately seeking to mirror Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

We know through Scripture and personal experiences that God wills only the best for us. His love doesn’t cease when we reject him, nor does he desire someone more appealing. God always remains faithful and extends to us the chance for repentance and forgiveness.

Jesus’ love shows us how to love unselfishly. He sets a model for all Christian marriages. Ultimately, Jesus reveals to us that real love grows from what we give to others, not what we take for ourselves. Thus, through holy marriages and in family life, children learn all about self-giving love.

My spiritual director recently said to me, “If God could yell anything to us from heaven, it would be two words: life and love. The two ‘L’ words.” This is God’s purpose for our lives: to have life and to love God’s way. We don’t want to do things our way, we want to do things God’s way, to love his way. According to Father Larry Richards, “I did it my way” is the “theme song” of those suffering eternally in hell.

We are called to measure our love according to God’s way of loving. This type of love — Christian love — involves a choice. Let’s all choose the mission of love.

This article is a summary of the eighth World Meeting of Families preparatory catechesis: “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” chapter II: “The Mission of Love” (pp. 25-31). Amanda Zurface, J.C.L., is the coordinator of justice, marriage and family life in the Office of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Crookston.