THAT gospel parable about a landlord who leased his vineyard to tenants (cfr. Mt 21,33-43) reminds us that we should be faithful to whatever commitments we enter into. Commitments are an expression of an undying love which can only be carried out if we have true and undying love as well, one that is the fruit of God’s grace and our all-out effort.
In other words, we can only be faithful if we are truly with God, that is, if God is the principle and goal of our commitments. Outside of that dynamic, that is, if we rely only on our own powers, we would have serious reasons to suspect that we cannot go the distance in fulfilling our commitments. Pieces of evidence of these unfortunate cases are plenty.
But how can we keep our commitments of love—of God and of everybody else—till forever? How do we keep the flame of love ever burning despite the cold and the dust that can come our way? I believe the answer is in our understanding of the very nature of the commitment of love.
For many of us, we understand the commitment of love more as a matter of feelings or of material, bodily or carnal attraction. Of course, it is true that in love, everything that we have and we are, are involved. The emotions and the passions play an important role. Except that in true love, we have to give the primary role to our spiritual faculties of the intelligence and the will, not to mention, the primary role of God’s grace.
It’s these faculties or powers that would enable us to enter into the spiritual and supernatural dimension of love. And it’s in these dimensions where we can find the true source, pattern, energy and purpose of our commitment of love, who in the end is God. It’s in these dimensions that can make our commitment persevere and constantly burning despite the ups and downs of our life, or the dizzying drama of our earthly sojourn.
The commitment of love that is a participation in the love of God can take on anything. The good things would not spoil us, making us proud, conceited, vain, complacent, etc. And the bad things would neither put us down, no, not even the scandals and betrayals of those close to us.
This true commitment of love will always stay on course, just like what couples promise on their wedding day—to love and honor each other “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
When young people come to me telling me that they are already dating somebody, I always give them a primer on relationships which should be anchored properly on God and the whole truth about what love, commitment and fidelity would involve. They usually have a very narrow and shallow view of these realities that they like to chase more with their emotions only.
When they are still very young, as when they are still studying, I tend to discourage them from making any serious relationship, since they are not ready for marriage and family life. I tend to advise them in a ribbing way by saying that at their age, they should make as many friends as possible so that when they are ready to marry, they can choose the best one for them.