Love and Self-Giving

February 6, 2019

Living the adventure of love requires dedication and a desire to live according to the demands of love.

The desire to live a lifelong love adventure is a mark of the youth and of all those who consider themselves young. This adventure of love is a greater ideal and, in this sense, it is an adventure capable of being lived despite the circumstances of life.   However, most of the time, this desire becomes an abstract and distant dream, for in order to delve into the adventure of love, we must give ourselves to this love and live up to its demands.

To let oneself be led by love is not synonymous with living according to the appetites and impulses of the moment. On the contrary, it is, above all, to accept and take a path. To let oneself be led by love is not to lose focus, it is to overcome obstacles and often, despite the tears, to dare to continue. 

Many will say that we are selfish and do not want to know about anyone. For example, if we want to be Olympic champions, we get up for training every day at five in the morning; this will also mean going to bed early and having a healthy diet. Now, in this case, friends will accuse us of being spoilers and profoundly selfish. However, when we get on the podium and receive the gold medal, they will applaud and at that point, we will stop being “selfish” to become “the great friend.”

From this simple example we can draw some conclusions. First, being led by love is not a lonely path (all athletes have a coach), but it always means being under the eyes, comments and attitudes full of incomprehension. Second, “getting up every day at five in the morning,” because of love; love is always demanding and without effort one does not reach the final goal.

The Demands of Love

Love requires, above all, the capacity to be stronger than our fears and frailties. Let’s take the example of St. Daniel Comboni, founder of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus. His love for the mission carries with it the demand to go to distant lands. His departure meant leaving behind his parents who had already lost all their other children. At first glance this attitude seems cruel and deeply selfish. However, his perseverance along the way makes him a source of joy and pride for his parents, and more. In responding to the demands of love, despite the sacrifices, the life of Comboni becomes a place of salvation and life for many people.

Thus, we come to understand the importance of being accompanied by someone else: the coach of the athlete or, if we will, in the case of Comboni, the spiritual advisor. The adventure of love is the adventure of a life lived in fullness and this cannot happen in isolation. On the other hand, this path does not only depend on who accompanies us, but on the steps that each one takes.

Self-Giving and Commitment

To commit oneself to a cause is always to surrender to it. To commit oneself to the vocation is to give oneself lovingly, not only to it, but also to ourselves and to the path that we will have to travel to live in fullness.

We need to dedicate ourselves to discernment, since it is in discerning that we become aware of the way we go and whether it suits the goal we want to achieve. There is no self-giving without commitment or commitment that does not entail surrender of oneself. This is a requirement of love, more so, if we speak of a love that we wish to become life!

What is the greatest example of commitment to self-surrender that we have? Let’s look at Jesus Christ. Who was more in love than Him? Jesus leaves His house, His mother and sets off … the path begins with the joy of Baptism.

However, it is a path that leads you to desert and deprivation. Did this mean that Jesus abandoned His goal? No! Out of the desert, Jesus continues His mission. Many accuse Him, many want to arrest and kill Him, but His surrender to love is accompanied by the Abba (Father) and, in this sense, His perseverance in love is unshakable. 

See how far the path of love travelled by Jesus goes: it ends in death! The humiliating death on the cross! Is this the result? For those who live in and for love, death never has the last word! On the cross, love triumphed, not only because there was an Easter morning, but because a life of self-giving in love always triumphs.

Surrender to Love

We can only live a life of surrender to love if we dare, with faith and hope, walk the path of our vocation. In it we fulfil ourselves fully, since it is through our vocation that we fully love. The self-giving to love is, in the vocational experience, a surrender to love. In calling us to abide in His love (John 15, 9) Jesus calls us to take part in the fullness of His life of love and to follow His example of surrender.  So that we are, with authenticity, what we are and what we dream to be. 

It is an authenticity that requires us to give love similar to that of Jesus in all its dimensions: not only a surrender that culminates in the triumph and joy of the Easter morning, but also a surrender that does not get discouraged with the difficulties of life.
In this sense, Jesus Christ Himself becomes a paradigm for all those who want to dare to tread the path of the vocation – a path that is love, commitment, demand and self-surrender … a path that is life and life in abundance (John 10, 10).  (Susana Vilas Boas)

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Contact me at: javier@comboniyouth.org

Father Javier Alvarado Ayala