Love is not a feeling. It certainly involves feelings,
but ultimately it must go much, much deeper. More than anything
else, love is a decision.
True love is not always pleasant or easy, but it is
always fulfilling because in demanding total giving of
self, it paradoxically delivers genuine self-realization. It is
other-directed, but self-discovering, in that order.
Love is a manifestation of the self-giving of the God of Love,
who exhaled his own divine breath of life into us, and later, in
the person of Jesus, exhaled his last human breath to give us
eternal life despite all our wrongdoing and ingratitude.
Faith is similar. It is not a feeling, though at times it may
involve feelings. Ultimately it is a commitment. It
doesn't mean seeing or knowing everything, but believing in the One
who does - the God who leads us just as he led the ancient
Israelites out of slavery and across the desert to the Promised
Faith, like love, is a relationship of trust that seeks the
good, even when it is not self-evident. Faith is, as the celebrated
declaration in the Letter to the Hebrews says, "the assurance of
things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (11:1).
Culminating with the Incarnation, God gradually manifested
himself on Earth (the manna in the desert, Jesus' feeding of 5,000
people with a few barley loaves, the Eucharist, etc.). He became
one with our human nature, but sometimes (likely most times) all we
can see is the earthly reality.
That's OK. Faith asks us nevertheless to trust in the divine
presence of self-giving in our relationship with God and one
another - to believe in what is said because ofwhohas said it: "I
am the Bread of Life" (John 6:35); "This is my Son, the Beloved;
listen to him!" (Mark 9:7).
Faith is a free choice to profess one's belonging to One greater
than one's own self, to regularly renew our individual and
collective commitment of belonging to God.
The ancient Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, did this
upon entering the Promised Land, and we do this at every Eucharist
under the leadership of Jesus (Joshua and Jesus are different forms
of the same name in Hebrew).
As Christians, we do well to meditate on what the commitment of
belonging truly means in terms of our relationship with God and
with one another. How has God manifested himself to me? What
does it mean for me today? Several passages in Scripture offer
worthy points of reflection. Among them:
"Choose this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15).
subject to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians
"Do you also wish to go away?"(John 6:67).
Peter gives the perfect response in John's Gospel: "Lord, to
whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to
believe and know that you are the Holy One of God" (6:60-69).
As we know, Peter, first and foremost among the Apostles and the
rock upon which the Church is built, did not always live that
response perfectly - even after this conversation in
John's Gospel. That should give us all hope. By the grace
and mercy of God, to paraphrase St. Anthony the Great, each day we
begin again, deciding whom we will serve.
Let us each day choose to taste and see that the Lord is good,
and commit to building up one another in the love of Christ.