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Last week, we summarized St. John Paul II’s vision of marriage preparation where parents have the primary responsibility to prepare their children for marriage (remote preparation from birth to young adult). The example of their marriage, both good and bad, shapes their children’s understanding of marriage and shows them how to live out this important vocation. Is your marriage a good and holy example for your children? If some areas could stand improvement, do not lose heart. It is never too late to start living your marriage as God intends, loving your spouse as Christ loves His Bride, the Church.

But what is love? The word is used in so many different ways today that it has lost its true meaning. We say that we “love sports,” “love traveling,” or “love to eat.” The intimate union of a man and woman in the martial embrace has been reduced to “making love.” This same phrase is also used to describe sex between any number of consenting adults, or between adults and children, or even between children, including individuals of the same sex. It is no wonder that our society is confused on the true meaning of love.

In today’s culture, the word “love” is used to convey “feelings” when it is not a feeling at all. Love is an action performed by one individual for the betterment of another. Love desires to give, even at one’s own expense. God loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to die so that humanity could spend eternity with Him. Jesus submitted to the punishment that we rightly deserved for our disobedience. Jesus suffered a horrible death on the cross to free us from the ravages of sin and death. Love held Jesus on the cross, not the nails driven through His flesh. Love gives and gives, even when it hurts.

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

This week we have witnessed the cultural clash of what society calls love versus God’s definition of love. Two disparate groups marched in Washington D.C.; one chanted “Forget them, let them die” while the other sang “Remember them, let them live.” The first group is reminiscent of the mob at the mock trial of Jesus, “Crucify him” (Mk 13:15).

Our society’s twisted version of love results in the destruction of one million innocent children each year so that their mothers and fathers can live their lives as they choose, without responsibility. On one hand, an innocent individual gives up His life for the benefit of all humanity. On the other, an innocent, helpless child’s life is sacrificed so that the parents will not have to suffer the consequences of an immoral lifestyle or the inconvenience of human life.

Christ’s death on the cross exemplified love. The killing of innocent human life exemplifies the absence of love and the presence of evil. One saved humanity from sin and death, the other condemns countless innocent children to an excruciating death. One is all about giving oneself for the betterment of another; the other is about taking life so one can live unhindered by a child. Sweet Jesus, have mercy on us for the sins of our nation!

“But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45

Christ’s passion defines love. He gave His very life blood so that we would not have to suffer the consequences of our sins. In spite of the incredible love demonstrated by Christ in offering up His life on the cross at Calvary, countless individuals over the centuries have turned their backs on His love to seek fleeting pleasures. Love gives and gives, even when that love is rejected.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6

Do you have the courage to love as Christ loved? That is your task as husbands and wives. You are called to live selflessly for the betterment of your spouse and children (cf. Eph 5:25-33). We are to love and love, in good times and in bad, even when that love is rejected, even in the midst of ridicule, scorn and contempt, and yes, even when it hurts. Christ sent the Holy Spirit to equip us with everything we need to be men and women of love. Our children are so in need of healthy, holy examples of marital love. If you are not modeling this kind of love in your marriage, do not expect your children to learn it from a society that has a perverted view of love and life.

We love, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

You are preparing your children for marriage. They are like sponges, soaking up everything that they see, hear and feel. If your home is contentious and filled with strife, this will become the norm in their marriages. If your home is peaceful and full of grace, you are preparing your children for a joy-filled, loving marriage. Which will it be: society’s twisted view of love or God’s life-giving love? Future generations will be formed by the choices you make today. Choose well.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Peace and blessing to you now and always. May the love of Christ reign in your hearts and in your homes.