We know the essence of God to be love, and love always seeks the good of the other. In order to imitate our Creator, thus, we must love everyone in our path at every opportunity. That’s no small order!
The first “playground” in which we exercise this virtue is the family. Through the sacrament of matrimony, a man and a woman embark on a life-long walk, hand in hand, loving, serving, embracing, and forgiving. This cocoon of love soon expands into new life, imitating the Blessed Trinity spirating, breathing, and growing, often through the conception of new souls. Love in a fallen world can be treacherous but with our eyes on the tabernacle, it is possible to carry on in generosity, forbearance, and surrender for the good of the other, responding to the command to Love.
Imagine “the just man,” who lives well. He serves his wife and family, protecting and providing for their legitimate needs, but also dying to self to offer even more—to grant them their little desires whenever possible. His home is filled with love and souls, his virtue is a boon to his children, his coworkers, and his fellow parishioners. His priorities are in order, as he serves God first, his family second, and places work done to the best of his ability next as a means of imitating the creativity of his Lord and Master. As the years pass, his children grow and imitate his good qualities and start their own families. Now his virtue is spreading subtly into more families, as soil well tended provides and abundant harvest. His good-heartedness has deepened the devotion of his wife, formed his children to pursue upright lives, and won the simple but heartfelt affections of a growing brood of grandchildren, for whom he always finds time and energy.
This man has answered the call to love and sown a rich harvest of love in return. This is the essence of Christianity. The God of love has given to the just man and he has returned this gift with generosity. What can come of it? In a fallen world, as sure as day follows day, this man will die. The curse of death befalls us all and the measure in which we have loved will indicate the measure of sorrow at our passing.
Here we look at the God of love and ask, why? Why would He set up His creatures for heartache and sorrow? In a world in which love is not known to be a demand, a world where survival alone is paramount and affection is hard to come by, the death of one’s fellow man causes less suffering. In families where virtue has not been cultivated and children are not received as gifts, perhaps the lack of integration and affirmation dulls the senses so that death does not rob them of cherished personalities but simply lessens the burdens of groping, self-centered individuals. Actually, it’s Christ’s mandate of charity towards others that primes the heart for its very destruction as gaping holes are left with the loss of the beloved.
Here we can boldly assert that God owes us a reunion. We do well to see redemption and heaven as gifts of the crucified Lord, but if we look at the nature of love and the demands of God, we dare say that, part and parcel of His very essence, there has to be a heaven. It would be a perverse Creator Who demands that we integrate our lives with others, sacrifice our needs for theirs, and persevere for their well-being, only to be torn asunder as they succumb, one after another, to the void of unbeing.
No, a God Who is love, Who demands such love, and Who testifies to love with His very Flesh owes His creatures the ultimate reunion, which also is the flip-side of charity: unity. We will see the just man in the end, should we be true to Christ’s call, and as long as we wash our heartaches in the Blood of the Lamb. Far from presumption, we depend on His wedding feast to round out the chapter on love union of all the loving in the bliss of Christ's Sacred Heart. All will be well, if we but have patience and loving eyes of faith. All will be well, for a loving God could offer nothing less.
Mrs. Kineke is the editor of Canticle Magazine for Catholic women.