"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

Day 5: Love Is Never Rude, Crude Or Indecent

"When I am sitting at home, a lizard catching flies or a spider entrapping them as they rush into its web often fascinates me... The sight leads me on to praise, the marvelous Creator and orderer of all things... It is one thing to rise rapidly, another thing not to fall. My life is full of such lapses, and my one hope is in your great mercy. When my heart becomes the receptacle of distractions of this nature and the container for a mass of empty thoughts, then too my prayers are often interrupted and distracted; and in your sight, while I am directing the voice of my heart to your ears, frivolous thoughts somehow rush in and cut short an aspiration of the deepest importance" (Augustine, Confessions, xxxv no. 57)

aw of love is this: Love is never rude, crude or indecent. Today we ponder the relationship between law and love. Three questions to consider about law and love. First, "What is our usual understanding of law and love?" Second, "How does Jesus look at law and love?" Third, "What is the 'more' or the 'value-added' to the law which our Lord Jesus has been sent by his Father to give to us?"

We do not normally associate or look at law and love to be complementary. Often law and love are viewed as opposites. Law is enslaving, rigid, heartless or burdensome; on the other hand, love is freeing, seen as flexible and consoling to the heart. I suggest that we bracket or put aside these distinctions and let us first try to look at law and love more in Jesus’ eyes. Among Jews, the law-book or the Torah is considered to be the most sacred book of the Old Testament. It is the “rule”-book which puts limit or standard to almost everything in the life of any Jew. Jesus talked like any fervent Jew would with regard to the importance of the Torah. It was given by God in order to lead Israel back into the righteous path and enjoy their priestly status as His chosen people. That is why the law, specially the "spirit of the law" and not just the "letter of the law," is so precious and sacred and not to be regarded as a yoke or burden, far from it. But, without Jesus, the law is not perfect.

What is the “more” or the “value-added” which Jesus presents to us—the thing that only he could do and which served as the centerpiece of his mission? Some Jews until now are already content with following the Torah. There are a few others, just like the story of the rich young man, who may feel that there is something lacking in the law. The young man tried to confront it. In the end he could not reconcile his knowledge of the law as being perfect and yet feeling deep inside of him how imperfect he was. It brought him to the knowledge of sin but without finding any solution.

We all have learned the word asymptotic in math class. Asymptotic is an adjective form of asymptote and it has nothing to do with the now commonly used medical term asymptomatic. An asymptote could be a strait line or a curve which approaches nearer another but, though infinitely extended, would never meet it. We can look at law and love in this manner like asymptotes, though infinitely extended, would never meet. Without Jesus, law and love will fall apart. "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20).

Following the law can fall into purely relying on one's own efforts to bring oneself closer to God. This cannot be done without Jesus. This is precisely the purpose of Jesus' coming and living with us. He came to fulfill or bridge the gap and he continues to come to us “closer to us than we are to ourselves” (St Augustine). No following of the law, no matter how perfect, would ever be enough. Jesus tells his disciples, “I have come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it….” What is Jesus hinting at in these words? That he is God's greatest gift far better than the Torah and the Prophets. But, just like the rich young man, we crave for other things than what God would like to give to us.

The movie The Greatest Showman tells of the life journey of a very brilliant and talented man named “Barnum.” PT Barnum and his troupe perform a show at the circus ("The Greatest Show"). At first they lived a humble life, married Charity his childhood crush. Although Charity is happy with their two daughters, Barnum craves for more. He becomes world famous, conquers the world as a renowned artist and businessman. Some unfortunate events happen that brought his success to a halt. He came to a point of losing everything and even his wife decides to leave him. But he came back to his senses and realized that the sole reason for everything that he has accomplished is to be with the ones he loves. Nothing more, nothing less.

An excerpt from a song in the musical the Greatest Showman with the title From Now On clearly gives us a glimpse of what Jesus personally offers in fulfillment of the law. And I quote,

I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for.

Fr JM Manzano SJ


  1. I like the asymptotic association :D... Like faith and reason can go together in a person who truly experiences God's all-embracing love in his own reality...Thanks! God bless Fr.JM!

    1. Thanks for the blessing and for sharing your spiritual insight on faith, reason and love! God bless us!


Post a Comment

Thank you for your interest in the above post. When you make a comment, I would personally read it first before it gets published with my response.