In this reflection, teens consider how they define love. They also discuss what the is different between liking someone and loving someone.
Start off with thinking about the word “love”. Begin with a few questions.
- What are some things you own which you love?
- How much would you be wiling to give up for these things?
- Are there things you used to love when you were younger which you don’t love anymore?
We tend to use the word love a lot. We might “love” our new pair of shoes. Or we might “love” the beautiful fall weather. In these cases, our love is an emotional response. And in these cases, we don’t have a lot of choice about what we love either. I might love ice cream, but not love spinach. And no matter how hard I try, I might never love spinach.
When we use love in that context, what we are really talking about something or someone we like very much. Our preferences for one thing over another cause an attraction. And while there is nothing wrong with that, it is not really the kind of love that Jesus often speaks about.
- How do you see the difference between loving and liking?
- Is there something that makes love different?
Now read Matthew 22:34-40:
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."Matthew 22:34-40
Jesus first instructs us to love God with everything we have. But he also tells us to love our neighbor. Why? Because if we can’t love the person who is right in front of us, then how can we love God?
Jesus speaks of loving with our whole being. This is more than just feeling good about something or someone. It is more active. Loving is more than just a reaction to something. It is something we actively do with our whole effort.
To love someone is to what what is best for them. In the case of someone who has insulted or injured us, this can be really difficult. It doesn’t mean we need to have a relationship with them. But we do need to let go of grudges and not hope for the worst for them.
Let’s think of a few situations. What things might we do out of love? And if it is easy or more difficult?
- Loving your family
- Loving your girlfriend/boyfriend
- Loving the people on your team or in your club at school
- Loving your friends
- Loving your teachers
- Loving the homeless man on the street
- Loving your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend
- Loving the person who has been gossiping about you
What are some other people you might need to love? Would it be easy or difficult?
Jesus not only told us to love. He showed us how to love. He gave the ultimate example by giving his whole self over in love when he died for us on the cross.
We will probably never be asked to die out of love, but we will be asked to make sacrifices. We might have to sacrifice some of our pride. We might have to give some money to the poor. We might have to give up some time doing something we enjoy to help another person out.
By making these sacrifices, we not only show our love for each other, but we show our love for God. For we are all His beloved children and he wants what is best for all of us. And we can cooperate with Him by working for the good of others, especially when it is not easy.
This week, try to do something out of love for someone you don’t necessarily like. If nothing else, pray for them every day.