Love and Fidelity
ʺDo not let love and fidelity forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then will you win favor and esteem before God and human beings. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; on your own intelligence do not rely; in all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.ʺ (Proverbs 3: 2-6)
One of the greatest gifts we can give to one another is our fidelity. This is true in our friendships as well as our marriage relationships. Indeed, our children learn it by observing how we relate to our spouses. Our fidelity has strength and meaning only when it is rooted in love for one another. A very wise person in my life once said to me, ʺThe best way to love your children is to love their mother.ʺ It is true for the mother too. The best way to love her children is to love her husband. In doing this, our children will learn by experience, the power, the grace and the value of faithful love.
This is the kind of love that God gives us every day. We are called and challenged to return that gift by being, in turn, loving and faithful to him. In loving God above all things, our love for all things is enhanced, clarified and strengthened. When we take on the habits of love and fidelity, they become the public perception of who we are. All human beings desire these virtues in every one of their relationships. But it is also true that most of us have been ʺburnedʺ by the infidelity of a friend, maybe even by a spouse. And we all know both how much that hurts and how hard it is to forgive such a thing. One of the most painful realities in our lives is the effort that must be gone through to regain trust, or to trust the offending other again.
But the reality is that every one of us has been unfaithful to God, if not to a friend. The human race fell from grace, and continues to do so through pride, and infidelity is a natural result of pride. Still, God’s fidelity and love for us was never diminished. In sending his only begotten Son into the world he revealed that truth to us. Better yet, he forgave us and, like the Prodigal Son, he put the family ring, a symbol of fidelity, back on our fingers and he has prepared a welcome home feast for us. The only way to honor his love and fidelity toward us is to try, with his grace, to remain faithful to him and to all others in our lives. In this, as the passage from Proverbs says, we will ʺwin favor and esteem before God and human beings.ʺ Self-esteem is not a given. It is something that is earned by dint of great effort. It is the inner recognition of one’s own value, one’s own goodness, one’s own gifts. It comes to us from having done what we know is right and good. It is its own reward. The esteem of others is something we desire as well. But it comes to us only when we have attained our own self-esteem by having developed the habits of fidelity and compassionate love.
God gave us intellect. We are to use it and to use it well. But we are not to rely solely on it, for it is limited and needs the help of God’s wisdom to be most effective in matters of great moral importance. As Proverbs tells us, we must always, ʺin all ways be mindful of him.ʺ If we practice this, ʺhe will make all our paths in this world straight.ʺ
Let us pray for the grace to be always faithful to God out of our growing love for him. Let us learn to ʺtrust in God with all of our heart.ʺ In doing so we can believe that our capacity for fidelity and love toward one another will be increased and strengthened by him as well. Amen