"Cause love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care
For the people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way
Of caring about ourselves"
Ah, love! In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict insisted that "God's love for us is fundamental for our lives" and that love "raises important questions about who God is and who we are." Even before beginning to consider what God's love means for my life, I am "immediately... hampered by a problem of language" because for a very long time "the term 'love' has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words" (par. 2).
In thinking about the question raised by God's love for me, I have found a short book written by Owen Cummings and John Galindo, Spirituality, Intimacy, and Sexuality, to be of great help recently, particularly the beginning of book in which they use the example of Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, found in John 12:1-7, as an example of what God's love means for me when they write that "[w]hat she did was at once spiritual, sensual, and intimate." In this gesture "[s]he gave herself completely to Christ" and "he accepted her as only he could." "As Christians," they continue, "we talk, study, sing, and pray about giving ourselves completely to God. But to see Mary actually do it must have evoked an array of responses from those present...[s]he loved him with all of her self." This relieves a lot of existential pressure, but only because it is not a pragmatic moved on my part, but a real movement of God to embrace me, to take pity on my nothingness.
What does it mean to look at yourself the way Christ looks at you and how does this, in turn, change the way you look others?