Friday, February 10, 2012

The Primacy of Love

I am definitely someone who likes to think about life, about the world, and about human existence, as well as often being the quintessential bookworm regarding theology and philosophy. Very few things do I enjoy more than to crack open great works by great Catholic and Christian men, and just contemplate and absorb Truth. I pursue philosophy, theology, wisdom, and truth with a passion, and I enjoy writing about what I have discovered (hence the name of this blog :) ), and what I have mulled over in the time I have had to think about life. One conclusion that I have come to, perhaps a late discovery, fool that I am, is that even though I am attracted to ideas and to philosophy and theology, love has a major primacy over knowledge. Now you might say, 'St. Paul has taught that in 1st Corinthians 13 already, and you call that a discovery?' And you're right! I've read St. Paul's teachings on the primacy of love so many times in my life. But as I think most people discover, we're far more blind than we realize. It is only the grace of God that enlightens us to value and worth and reality, not our eyes reading information on a page. There are certain times when particular truths hit home to you in an epiphanic way, rather than simply knowing it. This is that epiphany for me: very few people in this world respond to philosophical or theological knowledge, only the love that you exhibit to them. I noticed that people who believe in God or don't believe in God, very seldom do or don't based primarily on philosophy; they do or don't believe because of what has happened to them in their lives and what love people have or have not shown them, especially people who carry the fire of belief in God and claim to represent that belief. This should be a sobering idea for us as Catholics and as Christians, both for those who have a tendency to preoccupy their mind with philosophy (as I do) and those who don't. Take someone who is just an ordinary Catholic guy going to high school XYZ in Anywhere, USA. I would virtually guarantee you that 90% of the people in your school view reality through this lens of day to day interactions between themselves and the world, both non-personal aspects of the world such as blind suffering, and personal aspects like their interaction with other people, particularly people who claim to believe in God. This carries over into college and the rest of life to some degree, too. This is the reason why so many people can say, "I barely believe in God," or, "I believe in God but Christians have never seemed real to me," and all manner of other acknowledgements and disavowals across that spectrum. Please understand that this is not an appeal to ignorance, as if philosophy and theology were somehow bad things or that we ought only to interpret reality based only on what happens to us or how people treat us. I am just noting that it is a human tendency to live life in simplicity of heart and in an appeal and a desire for love and completeness, and there is deep wisdom in this, deeper in fact than the common pride of the scholar.

This is why it is so vital for us as Catholics to heed Sacred Scripture, when it tells us that the very substance of being a Christian is being a bulwark of love, peace, and stability in a hurting world, and accepting pain and suffering in the nobility of a son or daughter of God our Father and united to Christ His Son, who is perfect peace. This is what changes the world, and this possesses a power that all intellectual pursuits will never yield. Thousands upon thousands of Christian martyrs exhibited the Spirit of God through three centuries under the Roman Empire, and the pagans who watched them wondered at the fact that they were immutable beacons of pure Life. Let us keep that spirit of the martyrs alive in ourselves, and remember that when we walk down any path of life surrounded by men and women on different paths than our own, they're not looking at the thoughts you produce or the truth you bear directly, but they view that through how you love and how authentically human you are. Christ has no hands on this earth but yours, no feet but yours, no mouth to comfort but yours. If you are part of the Body of the perfect Man, you will be perfectly, authentically human, and on your way to being perfected in love; this authentic humanity is what people hunger for.

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