No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
– Matthew 6:24/Luke 16:13 (The Sermon on the Mount)
God is Love (1 John 4:8), and we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), therefore we are made in the image and likeness of Love.
Love is pure gift. It cannot be bought, or forced; the more you grasp at it, the likelier it will fade, like a plucked flower. It must be given freely, an act of the will (CCC 1766), willing the good of the beloved.
We are each meant as a gift, to our parents (CCC 2378), to our friends, to our neighbors, to everyone we encounter. Our existence was not necessary, but gratuitous, a miracle of creation.
However, this wondrous gift of each human being is so often damaged, the divine image of Love distorted by sin. Now children are commodified through reproductive technologies that destroy life (in discarded embryos) while creating humans to-order. In prostitution and pornography, people are reduced to body parts for the titillation of strangers. In Japan, lonely singles can rent a “girlfriend” or a “boyfriend”, or rely on apps for affection. How sad is that? The great adventure and mystery of love between persons has been turned into a miserable caricature, a fake. This is junk food which will kill us, not true nourishment that sustains us. It is almost like simony, selling holy things for filthy lucre. It is an insult to the giver, the gift, and the recipient. Persons are not made to be used, but to be loved in genuine, life-giving relationship.
We must turn back to our Creator, Love Himself; we cannot place our hope in the idols fashioned by men, for they are empty promises that will break our hearts. Only in God is true security, joy and complete fulfillment; only from God can we learn to love others and ourselves as the divine creations He made us to be.
Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such.
– Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate in it intimately.
– Pope John Paul II
It may be too much for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud shall be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting you can talk to may one day be a creature, which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of those destinations… There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts – these are mortal, and their life to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors… Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.
– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Only creative reason, which has manifested itself as love in the crucified God, can show us the way.
– Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “Europe in the Crisis of Cultures”