The union between the love of God and love of neighbor
St. Catherine describes the way of love like this: In the first stage, in the beginning, even when we say that we love, we don’t understand love. What we have is love of ourselves, self-love. We have a list of selfish plans and desires. In the beginning this is the human condition wounded by original sin.
A second stage is an encounter with a love that has no selfish desires, like the one that we find in 1 John 4, 10: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us” He loved us before we loved Him. When we receive this kind of love we receive healing and cleansing. We receive freedom, a very specific strength that helps us to get out of the jail of selfishness, because living in egotism is like being in a prison; to live life as the slave of “my plans” is to live in a very small cell.
Well... Once the prison is broken we are able to receive the love of God, we are freed. We receive the Life of God and our soul is like "a dry weary land without water" (Psalm 63) starting now to drink from the love of God because of a personal encounter with Jesus.
Again, first: There was no love, only selfish desires; second: Love comes in the Person of Jesus. The third stage: that love has the power to build us, construct us until the point that we are going to be capable of loving… loving who? God, the one who has always loved us with a selfless love.
This process is almost like the development of babies. They are not great sinners, but in the beginning they live only for themselves. “My food, my sleep, my comfort” after receiving love from their Moms, they start to love her; they learn to love with a love of gratitude. In this third stage a love of gratitude to God, a love made of happiness, and the ability to trust in Him is what begins to grow within us.
And finally… The fourth stage: God has healed me, forgiven me and freed me. God built me and made me capable of finding some of the beautiful masterpieces that He wants to build and see within me. My life has a purpose and now I can see it. Then, God show me that there are others like me that pass through stage one, two and three, other brothers and sisters that were also helped, loved and freed from their selfishness… we see them and we can easily relate to them.
Little by little God is going to awake in us the capacity of loving our neighbor. How come? Why is He doing this?
When I love someone I want to make them happy, I want to please them, I want to respond to their needs, I want to help them in their projects, in what that person wants to achieve. I will help them finish what they are working on; I want their projects, and plans to be the best. (This is what God is doing; because He loves us, He wants us to succeed at loving our neighbor, and therefore, succeed at loving Him even more.
God said to St. Catherine of Siena: “You can’t love me like I love you, because I love you in a selfless way, without expecting or receiving anything from you… you can’t love me like this… but what you can do is to love the ones that I love, in the same way I love you… you can love them without expecting retribution”
My brothers and sisters, we are called to love God’s project. His plan is the salvation of the whole world. We need to love in the name of God and, because of our love for Him, we need to love our neighbors. This is the explanation of the unity of these two commandments: The Love of God and of our neighbors.
Come Holy Spirit and make us capable of uniting the love of God and the love of our neighbor in the Heart of Jesus.
Dear Lord, I believe in you, because you have a plan for me that will bring me to be like you. I hope in you, because your example and your grace give me the strength to be able to identify my will with yours. I love you, because only by loving you can I be transformed into you and be holy. Give me, Lord, the grace to practice charity faithfully.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, give me the grace to love others with all my effort and good will. I want to contemplate you, Lord, so that I may learn from you how to love them to the point of giving my life for them.