Maybe it sounds cheesy to us when Justin Bieber is singing about it. It certainly sounded much more rock ‘n roll when Queen was talking about it back in the 70s, but it’s a theme that has stood the test of time:
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
This should really come as no surprise, since—the educated Catholics we are—we know that it’s Christian theology 101 that God created us out of love for us, in order that we would love. Thus, the goal of our life—what we are created for— is to give of ourselves completely in love. Our life’s fulfillment, true happiness, can only be found in this love.
Of course, life-giving love can express itself in this life in a myriad of ways, but the basic principles are the same. See 1 Corinthians 13 (hint: it applies to lots more than just romantic love):
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
We’re all created for this kind of love. Priests, religious, married people, single people, young people and old people: love is the call of the Christian life.
Scratch that. Love is the call of the human being. Christianity simply presents you with the reality of it: The Cross.
This is kind of a big deal. We spend so much of our energy trying to come up with a way to package the Gospel in a way that’s appealing to this generation or to that demographic, but when it comes right down to it, there’s a reason why St. Paul says, “We proclaim Christ crucified.” We proclaim love: the subject of every artist’s work, the answer to every heart’s longing. No need to convince people they want it, because it’s the one thing we can’t stop talking, singing, or writing about.
If people don’t recognize love in what we’re offering them with our evangelization efforts, then it might be time to revisit our own understanding of what it is we have in the first place.