In the Peace Prayer of St. Francis the various couplets following our request to be made God’s instrument as we discussed in our last blog, are a litany of those elements necessary for peace; love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy—”but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)
Our verse this week is on love because it is the cornerstone of peace. It is also the antithesis of hatred to which it is closely related as is true of antithetical terms, which are defined by each other. For example, darkness is the absence of light.
Poetess Etla Wheeler Wilcox penned the line, “Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes.” Hate destroys, love gives life. Hatred and love cannot co-exist. Jesus commands us that we are to “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). One who loves unconditionally, as God loves us, cannot hate.
Hatred has many faces. Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel professes that “the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference,” which he characterizes as, “the epitome of evil.” Indeed, Pope Francis has been an outspoken critic of the “globalization of indifference,” which has replaced love and mercy with “an economic system that has removed the person from the centre and replaced him with the god of money; an economic system that excludes and creates the throwaway culture in which we live.”
We sow love by our witness, acts of kindness, compassion, mercy, consideration shown to others. Love is contagious. The Holy Father observed that “Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good” (EG 9). Just as “the love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14), our acts of love impel others, for God is love and those who abide in love abide in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)
Image Credit: USDA on Flickr