What does love look like?

by Kevin Birnbaum

Christianity is all about love. One of the most popular passages in the Bible even says “God is love” (1 Jn 4). And in the Gospel reading at Mass today, Catholics heard this:

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mk 12:28-31)

The two greatest commandments, Jesus says, are all about love. So what is love all about? Is it smiles and butterflies and sexual chemistry? Well, sometimes, to some extent. But real love is more than a feeling, and sometimes it’s hard. Jesus also says:

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (Jn 15:13)

And so sometimes, love looks like this:

Detail from the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald (1470-1528)

Top photo by Eva-Katalin/iStockphoto.