Love: it’s so much more than just a romantic notion. Each and every person is made from love, to love, and for love by a God who is Love. We are all called to holiness and this call to holiness manifests itself as a call to love as God loves. It requires us to serve, to look beyond ourselves, and to care for others.

Written on our very beings is this call to love and desire to be loved. However, we tend to be quite self-centered and go about things all wrong. We ask of each decision: what’s in it for me? We ignore an all-loving God who loves us infinitely and unconditionally. We try to force love to happen on our terms, when it’s convenient and serves our purposes. We hoard love as if it’s a finite resource that’s being rapidly depleted without realizing that it’s this miserliness itself that is keeping us from love. We keep score and worry about whether everything is 50/50, seeing love as paying a debt or accruing credit. Entitled, we view love as a right rather than a gift. We confuse infatuation, lust, control, enabling, and any other number of unloving things for love out of desperately wanting to feel loved. Yet none of this is love and we end up feeling empty and purposeless.

God calls us out of our selfishness to love and gives us free will to accept or reject Him and this calling. Real love makes demands of us. It’s oftentimes messy and inconvenient. Love is a gift of self, freely given and freely chosen. Love is the continual choice to desire to put someone else before oneself, to wish ardently the absolute best for another. Love is selfless, giving, and sacrificial. It is the greatest virtue and the core of Christian life. When we choose love, we become vulnerable. We look beyond ourselves to the interest of another and answer a need or a want in service. We respect others as fellow human persons of infinite value and worth. We strive to love as God loves, expecting nothing in return and yet desiring a reciprocation of love. God’s love is infinite, perfect, and unconditional. He loves us despite everything, for He knows everything. We are fueled by God’s love for us, transformed and impassioned to do His work.

Clearly this mission of love takes various forms. Many of us are called (or will be called sometime in the future) to love in a very specific and tremendous way through the vocation of marriage and parenthood. All of us are called to love as children and most as siblings, grandchildren, cousins, aunts or uncles, nieces or nephews, and other family relationships. Beyond our family, we love our friends, coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintances. Yet this is not all, we love those we encounter in our daily lives: the bank teller, the supermarket clerk, the restaurant server, the garbage worker, the homeless person, all those with whom we cross paths.

Even still, there is more. We love those we will never meet: the refugee, the orphan, the starving, the poor, the ill, the imprisoned, the persecuted, the people in need throughout the world. Beyond this, God calls us to love even our enemies. We are called to carry God’s love with us to every person. This love takes different forms depending on our relationship with a given person, but it is always about looking to another’s best interest, to fulfill their temporal needs as well as their spiritual ones. Ask God how He is calling you to love in each moment and for His grace to rise to the occasion and answer His personal call to holiness. Only Love Himself can fulfill our longing for love. Seek the Lord and He will fill your heart with His love to be shared through you with the world.