Our craving for love is only matched by our fear of it. When it comes to loving someone, we behave like porcupines. We need to huddle together for warmth, but we have to figure out how to get close enough to feel warm without hurting each other.
The way we hurt the one we love most is by refusing to see that love and greed are closely related. But it's easy to understand why we don't see the similarities. Greed and love stir up different feelings in us. Greed is condemned as bad and love is praised as good. However, if we stop patting ourselves on the back for caring about someone more than we care about ourselves, the truth is staring us in the face. We don't love selflessly. We aren't ready to sacrifice everything for love. We aren't completely, selflessly committed to our beloved.
We try so hard to paint ourselves as selfless, committed, caring people. We love to congratulate ourselves for loving someone. But, what love is, truly, is greed. At the root of love and greed is the desire that something, or someone, be ours. That's why the only difference between love and greed at the moment is how satisfied we are with what belongs to us, especially as it relates to the person we love.
But, greed or no greed, love, and friendship are some of the most amazing things life has to offer. So find someone. Love them and enjoy all the very real benefits of loving someone. We just can't lie to ourselves. Instead, we can take a closer look as to why we and another porcupine choose to huddle together for warmth. We don't have to try to justify our actions with a nice-sounding story about how it's all about the other porcupine.
Because, the truth is, in order to be “tenderhearted and courteous,” as St. Peter says in 1 Peter 3:8), we must turn the focus away from ourselves and the person we want to possess, and instead focus on Jesus who says about himself, “I am love.”
Do we love our beloved as Christ loves us? No, because we love fearfully. Do we put conditions on our love? Of course, because we’re greedy to possess someone we can call our own. Do we often treat our beloved the same as if he or she were our personal possession? Of course, because we’re focused on what love can do for us.
But now, on account of Christ, God's love obliterates all of that. In fact, it’s God’s love that sets us free to love in the first place. God's love in Christ sets us free to love without treating the beloved as our personal possession. God’s love forgives us so that we can say to each other, “I apologize, please forgive me for Christ’s sake.” For Christ’s sake, God sets us free to forgive and love.
We can’t forgive and love freely until we’ve been forgiven and loved by God. Loved to the point of being called a child of God. That's the love that finds and names us as beloved of God. It's the love of our heavenly Father for his children. So we rest in our Father's love then. We live in the love that offered and sacrificed his only begotten son for us to forgive our fearful, greedy, harmful love. We live there now. We live in his watery, baptismal love. We live in his bodied and bloodied love, living in his love song of Gospel pardon and peace for us.