As I passed through Dublin airport recently, the quote on the Church’s tower “God is Love” caught my eye. That made me think. Dublin Airport is a very busy place with thousands of people passing through on a daily basis, in fact almost 27 million people every year. All those people to get to see that “God is love”. More importantly behind every person passing though the airport there is a story. Some of these are happy, others sad. It is a clash of emotions in the heart of the capital. Surely, there is much that can be said to all those people. However, whatever is said has to be brief and stay with them. So what better thing to say than God loves us – just a gentle reminder that, no matter what is happening in our lives God loves us, no matter who we are, where we are going or where we are coming from. God loves us no matter what.
To this reminder that God is love and more importantly that God loves us, some might say so what? Many people love me so why do I need the love of God too? Or how can God be love? It all becomes clear once we look at the definition of love. The English dictionary defines love as “ a strong affection for another person arising out of kinship or personal ties” or “attraction based on desire or admiration”. The key words in those definitions are “arising out of” and “based on” Therefore we love others when we are attracted to them and when their company makes us feel good. However, as our love is “based on” or arising out of something” it is based on conditions. That is to say we as humans love conditionally. Furthermore our love is also mercurial, meaning we love based on feelings and emotions that are changeable and can be influenced. This is where our human love differs from that of God. God’s love is pure and unconditional. It is richer than gold, better than any splendour and wealth and that’s why we all need it. Because no matter how many mistakes we make God will always unconditionally love us, he won’t change his mind, he won’t fall out of love with us. He will always love us, for who we are, he loves us for being ourselves because he is love.
So how can we understand the unconditional love of God. St Augustine put it so well when he said “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us”. That’s what unconditional love is. When we take a closer look at the Scriptures we will also see that, God gave us his only Son so we may live. Why? Because he loved us so much. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not die, but have life everlasting” (John 3:16). St. Paul in his letter to Corinthians also beautifully describes love - “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13, 4:7). That’s exactly what God’s love is like. After all, he sent his Son to die for us even though we are sinners. We didn’t have to do anything for God to do that, we didn’t have to promise to do anything before we could experience his love. Furthermore, his love for us has always existed and will always exist. His love just like him is never ending. Christ was sent to us as a messenger and a sacrament of God’s perfect love. In the cross, we have the ultimate representation of how much God loves us, how much He was willing to endure and suffer to save us. Christ’s death on the cross is the representation of God’s love. The Son was sent by the Father to show us how much the Father has loved us and in return Christ commands us to love each other with the same love - “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you” (John 12:34). By that, we are to strive to love like God, with pure and unconditional love. Christ commands us to be love and to choose love.
So to answer the question what does it matter that God loves me? Well it matters because God is love. He is the creator of all things and by his nature he is love. And our love for each other should always mirror the love of God for us, we should therefore always aim to love unconditionally not based on looks or possessions but based purely on the inner beauty we can only feel with our hearts.
When talking about God being the embodiment of love and us being commanded by Christ to always aspire to love unconditionally like God, it is hard at this time not to think of the choice Irish people will have to make in a very near future. However as we reflect on God’s love for us the choices become redundant and we face only one choice, to choose love and to try and love like God loves us.