“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”
Pope John Paul II wrote those words almost 31 years ago, yet they still resonate with us today. But why? Why does love make the world go ‘round? Why do we sacrifice so much for even a glimmer of it? Why do we sell everything once we have found it? Why are we hard-wired for love?
It is not fear or lack of meaning that opens us out toward these ‘why’ questions. Love itself brings us to these questions, to this wonderment over our existence, what we are here for. It is only where “love is missing…[that] the question of meaning lacks the air it needs to catch fire.” Indeed, “the experience of love is the birthplace of wonder, the first step along a new journey toward the fullness of meaning…Wonder can be born only in the matrix of love. Even the amazement that fills us when we behold the marvels of creation makes sense only in light of the experience of love” (Called to Love).
The Great Awakening
If love awakens one to the experience of wonder and the question of meaning, it is in our response to that love that “puts in our hands a compass to guide our quest for meaning to the goal of true happiness” (Called to Love). Though the danger of turning toward self-love always remains, “love is a guide that leads us beyond ourselves and toward transcendence…takes us out of ourselves and ushers us into a fullness of life that is bigger than our tiny selves. The heart of experience, then, is the wonder awakened by the revelation of love. Love opens the very roots of the human person to the encounter with the other, to transcendence, and to newness of life” (Called to Love).
Faith as Response to Love
When we experience love we are called to love, called to respond and return love for love. Yet, love cannot be demanded or measured, cannot be prodded or proven. This foundation of human experience calls for a response of faith/trust in the act of receiving love and faith/trust in the act of giving love in return. In the response of faith/trust to love, we are moved beyond ourselves, beyond what we can construct, create, conjure, or prove.
This wonderment and call to respond to love moves us from our initial experience of love to our experience of our existence as a gift of love. We experience our very existence as a gift of love and this too calls us to respond…but to Whom? Who is responsible? This love calls us out in faith to the One who made us. Indeed, the natural “human experience of love points toward a fullness that comes to light only in the encounter with Christ. Wonder culminates in faith’s response to Christ’s revelation of the fullness of love” on the Cross (Called to Love).
Why are we built this way? Because we were created in the image and likeness of the Triune God, Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Lover, Beloved, and Love. The Holy Trinity is an eternal exchange of love. We were created in God’s image and likeness, and so we are created in love and called to love. Praise the Holy Trinity!