St Thomas Aquinas once defined love AS ‘WILLING THE GOOD OF THE OTHER AS OTHER’. What Thomas meant was that if you love someone then everything thing you say and do serves their good. And the good I do for them is for their good, not for mine. This definition of love by Thomas roots the act of loving in the will as a decision and as a habit. This is in contrast to many modern definitions of love as dependent on feelings and emotions. Now true love can produce lots of feelings and emotions, many of which are joyful and beautiful but true love does not depend on feelings. That is why love and service are so closely tied. If love is willing the good of the other as other then to serve is to move to meet the needs of others before us. We see this with Jesus at the Last Supper who washed the feet of his disciples as a sign that he ‘loved them to the end’. This was who Jesus was and is for us and for all as he teaches in the Gospel this Sunday. He is the suffering servant who has come to serve and not to be served, giving his life as a ransom for many. May we love by willing the good of each other and serving that good in humility.
Fr Billy Swan, Wexford