by Beth Awalt 

There are three words for “love” in the Greek New Testament –philos, eros and agapeo. Philos is the love between two friends, a certain fondness you have for someone you like to spend time with. Eros is the word for romantic, passionate love – the feeling between two lovers.

Agapeo, however, is my favorite kind of love: agape love, defined as divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional and thoughtful love. Our mission as Catholic Charities calls us to live out that love in action, but which love does our mission refer to?

Agape. Plain and simple – we are called to love Marylanders in need just as God shows love to us. We agape the hungry man as we serve him a meal, even if he barely makes eye contact or says thank you. We agape the homeless woman as we search for shelter for her for hours, giving up our lunch hour to make those calls. We agape the lonely child, noticing her in the corner by herself and inviting her to play a game together. We agape the elderly guest, putting extra effort into making sure the entrance to his housing unit is handicapped-accessible, so his wife can visit in her wheelchair. We agape the immigrant, collecting a bag of gloves, a scarf, a warm blanket and a hat for her and her child on their first week in this country.

For all the agape you show each day, I thank you. It is your actions that define Catholic Charities’ Mission in Action: a mission to agape anyone who walks through the door.

I leave you with a challenge for the day, the week, the month, the year. Ask yourself, ‘How can I agape more? Where can I love more like God does? Can I love more unconditionally? How can I sacrifice to show love to others? Can I be more active in my love? How can I be more thoughtful, or intentional?’

Share those answers with your co-workers, your volunteers, your clients. The more we start to talk about agape, the easier it will be to live it out more fully.

Peace and blessings to you, always!