They were young (he was 19, she was 18), handsome and very much in love. One day while looking through the Sunday newspaper they spotted a full-page ad. It announced the annual kissing contest to take place at the senior high school in town. The object of the contest was to determine which couple could remain locked in a kiss the longest.
They were so madly in love that they felt absolutely certain to be the next champions. After all, they had lots of practice. The young couple filled out the entry form. On the day of the contest they, along with the other couples, arrived and got “in position.”
“On your mark, get set…. ‘Smack’.” Fifteen minutes elapsed…. 45 minutes…. 90 minutes…. 105 minutes and 48 seconds. Our young couple was the only contestants left standing. All others had dropped out. They were the new champions and had even broken the record! They would have kept going but… wouldn’t you know it? They keeled over and dropped to the ground, unconscious.
An ear, nose and throat specialist rushed over to examine them. The doctor quickly determined that they had fainted due to lack of oxygen! Ain’t love grand?
The things that love makes us do can get us into some rather silly, comical and sometimes humiliating predicaments. Yet, we submit ourselves to the task of searching for love. Without love in our lives, there is a significant void. There is in each of us a desire to love and to be loved. When we fail to love properly, we will either turn against ourselves or turn against others.
A great paradox exists in our culture. In all of history, humanity has never been surrounded by so much recreational and social activities. In spite of this, many people suffer from loneliness. In one year the average American meets as many people as the average person did in a lifetime 200 years ago. However, I suspect that people are far lonelier in modern times. This should not surprise us. After all, we live in a culture that teaches and encourages total independence and self-assurance. Personal relationships can tend to be banal and superficial. The result is a culture which almost has a neurotic desire to be loved but yet rejects intimacy.
Well, let’s face it. To truly love and engage in meaningful relationships can be intimidating. In loving unconditionally we have to come to terms with our ego and pride. In our effort to love unconditionally we will face moments of failure because of our built-in imperfections. In those moments of failure, we can experience God’s love through the unconditional love and forgiveness of others.
There is a great promise for those who love unconditionally. The promise is that love casts out all fear…. All fear! What a remarkable promise. As love matures on a day-to-day basis, the result is that fear is cast out because love replaces it. It is offered unconditionally, with no strings attached.
History has passed down to us a wonderful story about a great religious figure of the 13th century: Francis of Assisi. Francis was terrified of leprosy. Just thinking of it horrified him. One day while walking alone along a path in the woods, he saw a leper walking towards him. His reaction was instinctive. He felt nothing but rejection and disgust. But, at the same time, he felt ashamed of his feelings. Francis walked towards the man, threw his arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. A moment later he looked back and there was no one there, only an empty road. All the days of his life Francis was convinced that through that experience God had tested his capacity to love unconditionally.
There is no greater standard in evaluating our lives except by the standard of loving as God loves (unconditionally). Those who can truly love have the energy to live. To love means to forgive, to restore, to reconcile, to obey (love your neighbor as yourself). Ain’t love grand?
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!
-Joe Molina CDR, UMSC / Chaplain to the Corps of Cadets(© all rights reserved)(© all rights reserved)
See Chaplain Molina’s latest published work: MUSINGS FROM THE HEIGHTS on Amazon: Musing Form The Heights