Agape: Christian Theol.
a) God’s love for man, divine love
b) spontaneous, altruistic love
Webster’s New World Dictionary Third College Edition
Long before any human being saw us, we were seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person speaks to us in this world we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love.
As finite beings, the idea of agape, love as goodwill, love that cannot be conquered, a love that is totally unconditional, is a difficult concept to grasp and at times difficult to put into practice. Human love is never perfect and is a pale reflection of its source, the Eternal Love that existed before the world was created. We do, of course, love our parents, our spouses, our children, our friends, but there are nuances to our love such that a careless remark, a deep hurt perpetrated by a loved one, a child who disappoints because he lacks certain desirable attributes, can chip away at the edges of our love and leave it less intense, less complete than it was before. This never happens with the agape of the Eternal. We are loved by the Eternal God not for our looks, intelligence, accomplishments, talents but for being us, as we are, warts and all. We sin, we fail Him, we turn our backs on Him but still we are loved as intensely and unconditionally as we were before time began. It is an unfailing, complete, all encompassing love that will never be lessened or extinguished. However, all of us at times, question the existence of this perfect and unquenchable love. Our belief in this love wavers when we experience illness, loss of employment or other personal tragedies or when we see the death and destruction wrought by natural disasters that seem so prevalent and devastating these days. How can someone who loves with a perfect love permit such occurrences? That is when our faith must come to the fore. Our faith tells us that evil and suffering are permitted, not desired, so that a greater good can be brought from them. In responding to another’s suffering and needs our attention is drawn away from ourselves and to the other. We forget about ourselves and our needs in an effort to help and we come together with others to form a common good, an endeavor to succor the needs of those suffering. Serving others who are in distress thus brings us closer to God and redeems us. In serving them we serve Him and become a beacon of his love to the world. With personal suffering our self-assurance, our complaisance, our feelings of complete control over our lives are called into question and we realize our dependence on God, which also brings us closer to Him. I must admit that my own faith wavers when presented with a suffering child. Little Davis was admitted to our home with chronic diarrhea and severe malnutrition. His brother was with us on two previous occasions for the same reason. His mother, although she loves him, is woefully ignorant and extremely poor. I could not help contrast his circumstances with those of my nieces and nephews and the children of my acquaintances who are well nourished, healthy and advantaged. I grasped and pleaded for an explanation as to why Davis was so unfortunate. Seven days after his admission, while I was staring at him, he looked up at me and smiled. I felt a tremendous relief for when a sick, malnourished child smiles one can be sure that recovery is on the way. I was then struck by the fact that Davis’ suffering allowed myself and our nurses to care for him, to switch our concerns from ourselves to him and to serve God through him. God permits but does not desire evil, to being from evil a greater good, for He is love. That is what my faith assures me.
Let us remember these great truths: (1) There is nothing, however small or apparently indifferent, which has not been ordained or permitted by God- even to the fall of a leaf. (2) God is sufficiently wise, good, powerful and merciful to turn those events which are apparently the most calamitous to the good and advantage of those who know how to adore and accept with humility all that His divine and adorable will permits.
Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J.
There is nothing so steady and relentless, so committed and enduring, so firm and unwavering as God’s love for us. Over and over again, in story after story, Jesus tells us that the defining characteristic of God is not anger but love. Yet we stumble around in a fog of misplaced guilt and wrong attachments. As children of God we are called to be people of love, people who accepts God’s love and people who transmit God’s love.
Gerard Thomas Straub
Thank you for your love and support of our children. We love you and wish you God’s peace.