In the novel Love Story, Oliver and Jenny want to marry. But their families don’t want them to marry. They are from “opposite sides of the tracks.” Oliver is rich. Jenny is poor. Both are well educated (he from Harvard; she from Radcliff) but aren’t interested in social status. They only want to start a family. Against the wishes of their parents, they do marry, but still their relatives object.
To Oliver and Jenny, love is stronger than the resistance from their families. They are poor but happy and remain in love.
Christian love is unconditional. It bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things (1 Cor 13:7). God is the source of love and nothing will stop him from loving us. As proof of this he has sacrificed Jesus for our sins and his love endures forever (Ps 118).
Saint John writes: God is love (1 John 4:8). To know God is to know love because God and love are one.
Holy Mother Church transmits this grace. Many people are repelled by a love so timeless and pure. They reject God’s love. But many more accept his presence in the Word. In the early days of the Church, they felt drawn to the faith because of John’s writings and Saint Peter’s preaching. People from all nations, who spoke different languages and believed in many gods, were baptized because they believed in the love God shared provided through Holy Mother Church.
The message that John and Peter shared with the world, that God is love, changed minds and converted hearts. God shows no favoritism, Peter tells Cornelius and his family. We are all the same to him, beloved and special, and as proof we know his Son.
“In this way the love of God was revealed to us,” John writes; “God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life thorugh him” (1 John 4:9). Jesus makes the same claim: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). He gives us his Word and we know that his Word is true.
God’s love is a gift. It is not a prize to be earned, not a material possession. It is no less valuable to a poor person than to somebody who is rich. Jenny and Oliver in Love Story loved one another unconditionally, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. That’s how the story ends: Jenny gets sick and dies young. Their love was no less powerful than it would have been had they grown old together.
To be loved by God is to be chosen and called by Jesus to be his friend. He shows now favorites. His love is without categorization or boundaries. It cannot be borrowed or lent, stolen, or donated. It doesn’t cost us a cent.
God is. God is love.