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February 26, 2008
Our love should be unconditional, too
By Bishop Michael O. Jackels *

By Bishop Michael O. Jackels *

How does the message of hope change lives?

We need food, water and other such essentials to survive. As we are a unity of body, mind and soul, our needs go beyond mere material sustenance. We also need to know and feel that we are loved by someone.

If you doubt the need to be loved, just look at the host of ills that can come from being deprived. For example, having to do or say things (that we do not mean or believe) to win love. Living in fear of rejection and losing love if we do or say the wrong thing.  Relieving the pain caused by being deprived of love with things like food, sex, alcohol or drugs. It can also inspire anger, resentment, bitterness and self-pity, sometimes expressed in vengeance and violence.

The kind of love that responds to our need needs to be unconditional. We are loved because we are, we exist. This quality of love is freely given; it can neither be earned nor lost. Unconditional love is total, without limit and without end.

God created us with this need and also provides for it. In God’s plan, a child is fruit of the love between husband and wife and born into the stable relationship of their marriage and family. This is ideally where a child is assured of being loved unconditionally. As a result, we feel safe and secure.

Reality does not often reach the ideal, especially given our weakened human nature after the fall of Adam and Eve. Peers, school settings and work situations can also contribute to a feeling of not being loved or loveable.

How does the message of hope change lives? By assuring us that, if by no one else, we are personally known and loved by God. He wants us to be and waits for us to be in communion with him in heaven. We can reach this goal by faithfully following Jesus, the Good Shepherd who shows us the way to eternal life in heaven.

God’s love is unconditional. Read for example Isaiah 49:15-16 and Romans 5:8. This is also the quality of love (cf. Matthew 5:43-48) that we are commanded to have for our neighbor, especially our most proximate neighbor, ourselves (St. Catherine of Siena).

With that assurance there is at least the chance of being free of the fear, pain and self-pity that is often associated with being deprived of unconditional love. Our lives are changed and as a consequence the world too.

The original story can be found at the Catholic Advance.

Most Rev. Michael Jackels is bishop of Wichita, Kansas.
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