In 1984 Tina Turner recorded her only song that reached number one on the charts. The first two lines of the chorus were, “What’s love got to do with it, got to do with it? What’s love but a second-hand emotion” As I reflected on this reading, that tune kept playing in my head. It seems Paul is addressing Tina’s question directly when he minces no words in letting the Romans know, love is what really counts. The only thing that counts!
The capstone of the Fourth Week of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises is the Contemplation On the Love of God. Ignatius prefaces this contemplation with two notes:
1) Love ought to show itself even more in action than simply in words; and 2) In love, one always wants to give and to share with the other. In love there is no such thing as giving because I have to, or ought to, but always because I want to. After we contemplate God’s love for us, Ignatius suggests our loving response will be a prayer of thanksgiving and offer of service (called the Suscipe prayer)
Take Lord and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will.
All that I have, all who I am, my very life you give me. It is my deepest desire to give you my entire self in return, to place myself in your service according to your will.
Please give me only your love and your grace, in their greatest abundance, and these will be enough for me.
And one last phrase about love, attributed to Mother Teresa: “There is no such thing as a small act of love.” Every act of love is a way of making God present and known in the world. There is nothing small in this!
—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits