ALVAREZ: Agape = Love = Charity

March 14, 2023

The eighth Station of the Cross depicts Jesus greeting the weeping women of Jerusalem at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Houston. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

Before we put away the Valentine’s decorations or eat the last of those delicious chocolates, let’s reflect on our ability to desire the good of the other. It may come easy to love strangers or people who may not know us but what about those closest to us — our siblings, family members, cousins, parents and colleagues?

Love comes from God, who is love and shares in the divinity of a Trinitarian Love. More times than not, if you turn on the television or scroll social media or simply drive around Houston, you’ll see a portrayal of love that depicts “Love is Love.” Somehow God got factored out from that equation of love.

In the book, Four Types of Love, C.S. Lewis, breaks down the four different types of love:

  • Eros or erotic bodily desire passion, which is seen so commonly in every electronic device.
  • Storge or affection and kingship for others.
  • Philia or friendship and love for others and love of the soul.
  • Agape or Charity, desiring the good of the other, which love comes only from the Father, given to us through His Son Jesus.

“Jesus makes charity the new commandment. By loving His own “to the end,” He makes manifest the Father’s love which He receives” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1823). Jesus came willing to sacrifice Himself for us and show us true love by taking up the cross and surrendering to the Father.

We, too, are invited to agape and, in turn, show that charity to our close ones and to everyone we encounter. Indeed, challenging and not easy, but why not start with this year’s gift of Lent and start with baby steps? We’ve all been to a wedding or have listened to the beautiful words in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.

I invite you to ponder on those virtues of charity.

The virtues of patience, kindness, joy, self-control, charity, peace, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty and chastity come to us when we answer the call to holiness. We are called to Our Father in sharing in the Divine Trinitarian Love. Therefore, what may we do to practice agape?

Here are seven simple ideas:

  1. Get your coworker some vitamins when they sound like they are under the weather.
  2. Intentionally offer up a meal for someone who may seem against you.
  3. Randomly send your elderly neighbor a meal or snack.
  4. Purposely carry prayer cards or miraculous medals in your pocket to give away.
  5. Put your phones away and pray your favorite litany as a family.
  6. Write Easter cards to a distant person, pouring out your love for them and Jesus.
  7. Plan to smile and acknowledge everyone that crosses your path intentionally...

As Mother Teresa said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” †

Melissa Alvarez is an assistant associate director with the Ministry with Persons with Disabilities in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.