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If you asked people what are the three most beautiful words in the world, many if not most would answer, “I love you.”

We start the journey of life with moms and dads and grandparents holding us, bursting with joyous smiles saying those three words countless times. I love you. (Some of you thinking of Harlow’s famous rhesus monkey experiments where infant monkeys were taken from their mothers and given a choice of a surrogate mother made of wire and wood or one covered with terry cloth. The infant monkey invariably preferred the terry cloth mother. Harlow powerfully – and cruelly in my opinion – demonstrated the absolute important of the mother child bond for healthy emotional development.) We grow hungering for those words. A young man tells the young woman he is dating, “I love you,” for the first time. She has the power by her silence to utterly demoralize him or by confessing her love to make his heart soar in elation. In adulthood we can affirm the life of a parent when we tell him or her in their old age, “I love you.” People even gush out in words their love to their pets, hugging the dog, getting in return eager licks to the face! I love you.

That love doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is a deliberate installation in our hearts. God put it there and if it is not satisfied, misery ensues. What is more, we are created in God’s image and part of that surely means that God is love. The Bible even says so. (I John 4:16)

When humankind departs from loving ways choosing instead the path of hatred, or the way of indifference, life becomes a dark and terrible thing. That is not what we are created for and love cannot be rejected.

Jesus said that love is what makes us his disciples. ‘By this they will know that you are my disciples. That you love one another.” (John 13:35) On the night when he would be betrayed and arrested and abandoned and humiliated, a night when Jesus could have dwelt on a hundred different things, instead he talked about love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Even as I have loved you, so much you love one another.” (John 13:34)

How important is love? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16) Love’s symbol is the cross one which Christ died. (1 John 4:10) God says in the next verse of John chapter three that his Son on the cross does not condemn the world – it saves the world. The sin and its consequences that stand between us and our loving God are what are crucified. Always Jesus dying for you and for me on the cross will be standard of love.

Our love is derived. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (KJV 1 John 4:19) In this the love of God was made manifest, as 1 John relates, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9ESV and RSV)

Love is our compass. Love is our north star. Love is the direction we seek form life’s GPS.

God’s love has saved us. God’s love is visible in a person, in his Son Jesus.

The Bible tells us that Jesus gave up everything to save us in the greatest act of love ever. Read Philippians 2.

Never forget what Jesus taught us was the great commandment – completely and authentically to love God and neighbor as self.

It has been a while, let’s pray together again the prayer of St. Francis.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it's in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to Eternal Life