One of the most comforting experiences in life, in my opinion, is that moment when a sweater or sweatshirt is taken out of the dryer and immediately put on. There is an overwhelming sensation that saturates the person from head to toe. The person feels at that very second that they were made for that sweater and that sweater was made for them. I had the blessing of participating in several World Youth Days with Bl. John Paul II. What was amazing was the reaction that the young people always had toward him and his reaction toward them. In 1993 when he was in Denver, CO he spoke to a crowd of over 500 thousand (yes over 500,000) young people. At one point he stated “You are not defined by your sins, brokenness, failure or hurt, but rather by how much later you are loved…” He also stated “Woe, to you if you do not succeed in defending life.” But the one phrase I hear repeated and quoted is “Shout the Gospel from the rooftops.” I remember hearing that and as I looked around people were in tears. They were made for this message and this message was made for them. In fact, as a result of the Holy Spirit, there was a vocation explosion in Denver and many parts of our country because of the moment in Denver 1993.
When the Gospel is proclaimed adequately it is received. It is that which we are made for, and it is that which is made for us. The problem is the word adequate. Love and truth go hand in hand while proclaiming the Gospel. Very often we, all of us included, love so much and neglect the truth or wrap ourselves in truth that they neglect love.
It can be said that love without truth is purely sentimentalism. Pope Benedict XVI states that “Without truth, charity (love) degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell…In a culture without truth; this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to… subjective emotions and opinions, the word “love” is abused and distorted… it comes to mean the opposite . . .charity (love) without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance. In other words, there would no longer be any real place for God in the world.” (Caritas in Veritate 1, 3-4)
Truth without love can be cruel and mean. In speaking bout truth St. Paul states that if he does not “…have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” At best it is annoying and at worst it is mean and cruel.
We proclaim the Gospel in love because we are made for it and it is made for us. We proclaim truth and love because it was ultimate truth and love that gifted us into creation and redemption. It is what we are made for and it was made for us.
The world does not understand love. The world wants the person to focus on the here and now and consider that this is all there may be. That is neither love nor truth.
Love is to will, and do, what is best for the other. This means loving them to heaven. To literally say “I love you so much that I will only do the good things that help get you to where you belong; heaven.” It requires sacrifice.
Authentic Christian love is not always correctly perceived as love at all and, as such, may carry with it certain consequences. Jesus knew this yet he commanded this highest form of love anyway, with consolation: “This I command you, to love one another. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you . . . Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15:17-18, 20).