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Love is Not Selfish

On one occasion then President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy were giving an interview on television. The interviewer asked them how they were able to keep their love alive for thirty-five years. As they thought about the question, the interviewer, trying to help them, suggested that perhaps it was because they were so willing to give and take on a 50-50 basis. The first lady broke into a gentle laugh and said, “Oh my, married life never breaks that evenly. Sometimes it’s more like 90-10. So often one of us has to give up so much more than the other”. That was the high point of the interview and it made an important point. When it comes to love, you can’t keep score. The day when people start to keep score in marriage is the day their marriage

starts to die. The same is true of any close relationship. If two friends keep reminding each other of what they do for the other, the friendship will not last for long. St. Paul makes that very point in his great ode to love in his 1st Letter to the Corinthians. He says there, “Love is not selfish or irritable: love does not keep a record of wrongs.” And we might add, nor does it keep a record of rights. It is important for us to examine ourselves on whether we consciously or unconsciously tend to keep score in our relationships. If we do, do we truly love the other person? As the monk Thomas Merton said, “Pure love is learned in the hour when love has become impossible and your heart has turned to stone.” In other words, true love performs acts of love when it doesn’t want to do them.


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