“Ask a Priest: As a Man, Should I ‘Be in Love’ With Jesus?”

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Q: I am working through some faith troubles and am a bit confused on a topic. Are we supposed to love Jesus or be in love with Jesus? I became a new man when I accepted Jesus into my soul, as he made me whole. But I am very confused about whether I can truly love him back for this, without truly being in love with Jesus. I know it sounds romantic, but I can’t help have this question. – T.A.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I wouldn’t focus too much on the distinction here. As men we relate to Christ as men. Our sense of affinity with Our Lord might differ somewhat from how women love him. So it might not sound natural for us as men to “be in love” with Jesus.

Suffice it to say that love isn’t primarily an emotion. Love is an act of the will. To love Jesus means to make him the center of our life, to follow his commandments, to make him the model of all we do.

It isn’t a romantic kind of thing, as we generally understand the term. And yet, our love for Christ can and should be deeper than any romance.

By this I don’t mean to disparage marriage. As beautiful as marriage can be, it can bring only a relative and temporal happiness. It doesn’t last eternally. Recall Jesus’ word about the seven brothers and the lone wife. “At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).

Another way to think of the richness of manly love might be this.

Imagine a soldier in wartime who, without hesitation, jumps on a live grenade in order to save his buddies. Six months earlier, in civilian life, that same soldier might have refused to do little favors for his wife, such as taking out the garbage (out of laziness, let’s say).

At what moment does the soldier show the greater love? Surely at the moment when he lays down his life for his buddies. Would we say he loved his buddies? Probably. Would we say he was “in love” with his buddies? Maybe not.

My guess is that those grateful buddies wouldn’t worry the difference in wording. Instead, they would always remember a man who laid down his life for his friends: the ultimate show of love.

So again, real love deals with the will, not the emotions. That is the kind of love Christ wants from all of us. So don’t worry about “being in love” with Jesus. Just love him as best you can.

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