"All you need is love."
We see all around us how deeply the human heart desires to love and be loved. We hear it on the radio; we know it by our own experience. We see how love "lifts us up where we belong". At the same time we know that disappointing experiences of love can sink us into misery and despair. Love is not meant to be temporary, fleeting, or self-centred. This kind of love does not satisfy our soul.
So what kind of love are we looking for exactly?
Life shows us that love is not simply an emotion. Love is deeper than romantic feelings or butterflies in our stomach, even though love can certainly express itself in these ways. Love is giving ourselves to another for the good of the other.
Love is a parent who cares for their disabled child. Love is an elderly couple still holding hands after more decades than you can count on one hand. Love is mothers and fathers who sacrifice for their children's future.
Love is the deepest fulfillment of who we are. And marriage is the fertile ground for this love that we yearn for.
Indeed, each one of us is born out of the love of a man and a woman. The love of spouses is the gas in the tank that gives them the steam to love their children.
Our deep desire for love can often lose its way and lead us down pathways of possessiveness, objectifying people, using them for our own benefits, and ultimately turning us in on ourselves. Marriage points in the opposite direction. Marriage points to a love that is free, total, faithful, and life-giving. In this way, marriage is the home of human love.
Even those who are not married can look to married love as the model for the love that satisfies us in all our relationships as human beings, including our friendships, family relationships, and beyond.
Is our love for others freely given without clinging to them? Is our love for others focused on their authentic good or centred inward on ourselves? Is our love faithful? Do we honour our word and demonstrate that we don't just care about people when it's convenient for us? Does our love bear meaningful fruit or does it simply seek our own interests?
Looking at the beauty of married love is a compass and a blueprint for human love overall. How can our love be more faithful, more self-giving, and more life-giving? Let us ask God to put His love in our hearts so that we can be truly satisfied and love others to the full.
Julian would be happy to hear from you, with any questions, insights, or suggestions you may have regarding this blog series. He can be reached at [email protected].
Julian Paparella is a theology student at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Rome. Born and raised in London, Ontario, he has worked in pastoral ministry in Montreal and Paris, especially with young people. Julian strives to communicate our faith in a way that resonates with everyday life, helping people to better experience God today. He is married to Marion.