February is popularly known as the “love month” because of Valentine’s Day falling on February 14. It’s the time when many people celebrate love and being loved, so businesses take the opportunity to market their products and services all in the name of “love.”
But really, let’s think about it for a moment: What is love? True love? Is it what the secular world says it is? Is it all about feelings and emotions, and falling head over heels? Or is it something more than that—beyond the fairy tale and telenovela type of love that is portrayed on TV and movies?
As Catholic Christians, we are called to believe that yes, love is indeed so much more. It is not just about feelings and emotions. Let’s take a look at God’s Word to learn what true love really is. One of the more well-known Scripture passages about love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
If we truly love someone—and I don’t mean just our spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends, but anyone whom we claim to love, like our other family members and friends—we must learn to be patient with them. We must show kindness even if it is difficult to do so at times. God even calls us to extend this patience and kindness to strangers, especially those in need.
True love is not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, not rude, does not seek its own interests, is not quick-tempered, does not brood over injury, does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
True love is all about being confident in one’s relationships—there is no room for jealousy when you truly love someone. It’s about being humble and respectful, always looking out for the well-being of the other. When we truly love others, according to Jesus’ teachings, we also don’t bear grudges against them but learn to forgive them. We do not rejoice when our loved ones do bad things or fall into sin; instead we try to help them to do what is right.
True love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
True love can withstand the test of suffering—we do not just abandon our loved ones when they face trials and difficulties, but stand by them and support them all the way. We endure all challenges together, believing and hoping in the beautiful plan of the Lord for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11). We endure everything that comes our way, because we know that our God—who is the Source of true love—will sustain us and help us.
True love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
True love–love that is based on God’s love for us—will never fail. “Prophecies,” “tongues,” and “knowledge” mentioned in 1 Corinthians are actually gifts of the Holy Spirit—but without love, these are useless. Indeed, to answer God’s call to serve others, we must first allow Him to fill us with His love.
To end, let’s look at the following quotes about love from different saints, and try to live out these quotes—plus 1 Corinthians 13—not just during Febibig, but every day:
“Pure love… knows that only one thing is needed to please God: to do even the smallest things out of great love – love, and always love.” — Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Faustina
“Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor… Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” — Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” — St. Augustine of Hippo
“There is no place for selfishness—and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.” — Saint John Paul II
As Ash Wednesday falls on February 14 this year, let’s make the effort to show God how much we truly love Him by observing the Church’s teachings on fasting and abstinence, and keeping the day solemn and holy in observance of the beginning of Lent. If we want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our loved ones, we can do it earlier. This is one way we can show our true love for the Lord. If you’re looking for more resources that tell us why observing Ash Wednesday / Lent is more important than celebrating Valentine’s Day, go here, here and here.