The experience of God’s presence, filling me and acting through me, this is love.

This experience is wonderful, the ultimate fulfillment, yet it is not just a feeling. Love is living and active. Love is the will of God in us, directing our heart, motivating our actions. There is no more powerful motivation than this. The love of God in us drives away all fears, satisfies all longings, and moves us to act with a power stronger than death.

Much goes by the name of “love.” Yet the presence of God which comes through faith is unique, the only love worthy of the name, the one love that can satisfy us. And because it is God’s love, it acts like God. Those who love with God’s love seek what God seeks; their purposes are God’s purposes. Such love is not merely “being nice,” or “accepting people as they are.” The love of God in us moves us to act towards others in the same way that God acts everywhere by his Providence: encouraging others towards faith, so that they too might be united with God. This is what love does, both in us and all around us.

Sometimes this is pleasant and sometimes painful. Depending on the hearts of the persons involved and the needs of the moment, love is sometimes gentle and sometimes harsh. Sometimes comforting and sometimes frightening. Just as Jesus sometimes offered healing and soothing words and sometimes shouted “Woe!” and flipped tables—and led his disciples to the cross. All this was love.

The cross was even presented by Jesus as the ideal model for love.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15.12-13)
I see God’s love in this “laying down his life” because it is the perfect example of faith. Jesus showed us what it is to trust God with our lives—even through death. And this is exactly what we need: an example of the way to God and then the response of God’s power carrying him through death. We need this much more than physical healing or food or moral teaching. The love of God is perfect in Jesus on the cross because it shows that we find God in faith, in surrender of our lives into God’s hands. And this is the highest good for each of us.