Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres I Corinthians 13:4-7
Love has many meanings in English, but we really just have one word for it. According to research on definitions of love in the Bible, the ancient Greeks were very specific and particular in their words for love, and they broke it down this way. They had four words to describe different forms of love precisely: “Storge” or family love; “Philia”, or brotherly love; “Agape”, or sacrificial or unconditional love; and “Eros”, sexual or marital love.
The “Storge” type love (pronounced Stor-hay), was for family love, a deep and protective affection that binds families tightly together. Philia, or brotherly love, is commonly known. We all know Philadelphia (City of Love), and the irony of the “loving” Philly sports fans showing love to people on the field in their own unique ways. They actually booed Santa Claus, but that is another story. Phileo type love is “I love you as you love me”. Good type of love for neighbors and communities, but not the highest ideal of it.
Eros, the one we are likely most in touch with in popular culture, has to do with passion and sexual attraction. It arouses a lot of energy, but often, like an intense fire, it can burn hot and quickly, and it may burn itself out.
Agape love is the ideal. It is the love God has for his creation. Selfless and unconditional, there is nothing the loved one can do to escape such love. It is there despite any actions that may try to thwart it. It is supernatural.
At times, we all display these types of love for others. They are all good in their own way, but the key is to recognize each for what it is, and not to deceive ourselves that we love better than we actually do. We love imperfectly. But as I said in an earlier reflection, acceptance of imperfect is OK. We just need to be on the right path.
We are called to a more perfect love. Fortunately, we have a Friend who loves us right where we are, wherever that might be along the road.
Prayer: Thank you Father for the unconditional love you have for us, Amen.