Love is the greatest of the fruits of the Spirit and, from a certain point of view, it contains them all. It is the most desirable fruit because “God is love” and God, in creating man, made of him “a complex of love”. It is Jesus Himself that tells this to Luisa when He affirms that the nerves, the bones, the flesh of the creature are fabrics of love. And God, after having woven them with love, let blood flow in all the particles, as if covering them with a garment in order to give them life of love. So the creature is none other than “a complex of love” and she moves for no other reason than for love. At most there can be a diversity of loves, but always for love she moves. There can be divine love, love of self, love for creatures, evil love, but it is always love. Nor can she do otherwise because her life is love, created by the Eternal Love, and thus raised by an irresistible force of love.
Love is therefore the center of human existence. It’s not only a feeling, nor only an act of will, but fundamentally it is an act that involves feeling, will, patience, memory. Love is centered in relationship. Its parameter is that which is good for the other. Love starts from a relationship with God. It is above every law, it surpasses every law, it is not subject to any law. Jesus even tells Luisa that love is not subject to death. There is no power, there are no rights over love. Love is eternal and one who loves is eternal with God. Love fears nothing, it doubts nothing, and it converts the same evils into love.
In the Old Testament, the word love is understood as the love that pushes one to make a gift of self for the beloved. There is no love if there is no “you”. Love is an inexplicable spiritual force ingrained in the person. In the people of Israel, the idea of love expresses relationship with the God of the Covenant and it is clear that the love of God precedes the love of man and of His people. We read in the book of Deuteronomy: “You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength”. The “all” repeated three times with emphasis helps us to understand that the author is exhorting us to commit the totality of our energy to making arise, from the feeling of love, a conviction that governs our whole way of living. He basically tells us that in order to fully live our relationship with God, we must engage our whole personality (heart and soul).
In the New Testament, we read in the first letter of John: “We love because God has loved us first”. The love of God is unmistakable, unconditional, immeasurable, infinite. He loves each one of us in the same way. How can we love with such a love? We certainly couldn’t do it without divine intervention. God provided, He compensated for our inability and He made us capable of loving as He loves, obeying His Will. “I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love…may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:17,19). God, therefore, loves us madly and ardently desires to be loved as He loves us: but how? By living in His Will. In fact, Jesus always reiterates to Luisa how pleasing it is for God to see the creature living in the Divine Will, because she lives of God’s reflections and, while living of His reflections, she absorbs in herself the likeness of her Creator who loves her with an eternal love. Jesus then emphasizes that whoever truly loves God does not get bothered by anything and tries to convert everything into love. According to the dose of love that an action contains, even if it be an indifferent one, thus increases its weight, because God doesn’t look at the work, but rather the intensity of the love that the work contains. He reiterates still that love encompasses everything, binds everything, gives life to everything, triumphs over everything, embellishes everything and enriches everything. Love is jealous of everything, even a thought and breath, though it may be honest. It wants everything for itself and thereby gives the soul, not natural purity, but divine purity.
One can therefore say that love is wisdom, it is obedience, it is sweetness, it is fortitude, it is peace, it is everything. And if all of the virtues don’t have life from love, at most they can be called natural virtues. Love, however, changes them into divine virtues. So in everything, love must be enough. When the soul decides to exercise a virtue, she forms the seed of that virtue. By repeating those acts, she forms the water in order to water that seed in the ground of her own heart. And the more she waters that seed, the more the plant grows beautiful and green, ensuring that it immediately produces fruits from that seed. Therefore, the repeating of our “I love You” to Jesus procures the water in order to water and form the tree of love.
All of the saints are the lovers of God. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus in a cry of joy exclaimed: “My vocation is Love because Love embraces everything and it is eternal”. Luisa Piccarreta wrote a true hymn to Love:
“In every moment, at every hour, I want to always love You with all of my heart.
In every breath of my life, breathing I will love You,
in every beat of my heart, I will repeat love.
In every movement of my body, I will embrace love.
Only of love I want to speak, only love I want to look at,
only love I want to listen to, always about love I want to think.
Only with love I want to burn.
Only love I want to consume.
Only love I want to taste, only love I want to satisfy,
only of love I want to live and in love I want to die.
In every instant, at every hour, I want to call everyone to love,
only and always with Jesus and in Jesus I will live forever, I will plunge into His heart
and together with Jesus and with His heart, love, love, I will love.”
Again Jesus, through Luisa, indicates to us the signs of knowing if one loves only the Lord: if the creature is filled to the rim with God, to the point of overflowing outside; when she thinks about, searches for, speaks of, and loves God alone, and all the rest does not seem to exist for her. Rather, the rest bores her, bothers her and, at most, she gives the dregs and the last place to that which is not God. Those who love Him are united to Jesus as branches are united to the trunk of a tree: Can there ever be separation, forgetfulness, different nourishment between the branches and the trunk? One is the life, one the purpose, unanimous the fruits. In fact, the trunk is the life of the branches, the branches the glory of the trunk: the one and the other are the same thing. And so it is with Jesus and the souls that love Him. It is so much so with the love with which Jesus loves the creature that as soon as she decides to give herself to God, He surrounds her with much grace, he caresses her, moves her, receives her, endows her with sensible graces, with fervors, inspirations, squeezes of the heart. And the soul, seeing herself so graceful, begins to love Him. She makes as though a backdrop of prayers, of pious practices in her heart. She decides to exercise herself in virtue. All of this forms a flowery meadow in the soul, but the love of God is not content only with flowers. It wants fruits, and therefore begins to make the flowers fall, which is the stripping of the sensible love, of the fervor, and of all the rest in order to give birth to the fruits. That’s why Jesus often repeats to Luisa: “Love Me for everyone, satiate Me with love”. It is only from this relationship of love with God that the relationship of love with our fellow man is born: “You will love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18), a commandment that is given in order to imitate God, in order to be Holy as God is Holy (Lev 19:2). And again the book of Leviticus teaches us: “love, gift of God, is diffusive and is imitation of God”. Only in this way can we also love others as God loves us, can we retrace that path that Paul calls: the best way, the way of love (1Cor 13), and can we also speak of love as “fruit of the Spirit”. He who tastes and savors this fruit experiences in himself a wave of divine joy that leads him to open up, in tune with God, with others, feeling capable of communicating the good that fills him to his neighbor.