MY friend Rosse G. told me love is not just in the air in the month of February; it’s also in department stores, beach resorts and hotels offering value-for-money “couple packages” on Valentine’s Day.
The Greeks (it’s always the Greeks and sometimes, Latins) were not satisfied with just one legal tender for love.
Agape: Agape (uh-GAH-pay) is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. It is often used in the New Testament to convey the love of Jesus for his Father and his followers.
It is the action of God’s immeasurable and unrivaled love for mankind. It never ends and it is given without condition, even for those that society believes don’t deserve a second chance. St. Paul urged the Corinthians to “Let all that you do be done in love.” The ultimate and incomparable example of agape love is recorded in St. John’s book: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
We can’t outdo God in loving others, but maybe we can find ways to apply agape love. Have you felt God’s agape love in your life? How have you responded to his infinite kindness?
Eros: Eros was the Greek God of love, and the Greeks borrowed from his name to define love of the body; the physical and sensual aspect of a relationship.
Many people consider it offensive and subject to heated argument, but in the Bible eros love remains to be the love between husband and wife. It creates a lasting emotional and spiritual bonding between couples. In expressing eros love, how considerate have we been? Have we misused eros love?
Philia: This is love of the mind, as well as brotherly, platonic love like the one shared between King David and Jonathan, King Saul’s eldest son.
It is the face of solidarity and long-lasting friendship. This type of love includes love for others, respect and care for those in need. The great St. Paul urged the Romans to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
How are we using this word today? Have we fallen into the practice of distorting its meaning? How do we protect the very young from someone who commits pedophilia? What are the ways we can convey care and concern even to strangers, as did the Good Samaritan?
Storge: Storge love (STOR-jay) is the unbidden love within the family. Strong’s Lexicon defines storge as “cherishing one’s kindred, especially parents or children; the mutual love of parents and children and wives and husbands; loving affection; prone to love; loving tenderly; chiefly of the reciprocal tenderness of parents and children.”
This is the point of Valentine’s Day: to open our hearts to those we love and to those we don’t love. It’s a tough assignment I have to work on because I failed it many times.