Some years ago, Tina Turner sang, “What’s love got to do with it?” especially if love is nothing more than “a second-hand emotion,” too dependent on a “heart [that] can be broken.” There are many, today, who unfortunately still hold such a cynical and dismissive view of love. Love is too often regarded by our society and culture as unrealistically romantic, idealistic, unpredictable, challenging, inconvenient, and exhausting. Furthermore, it seems just all too much to really invest in aside from the customary and obligatory expressions necessitated by interpersonal relationships and family ties.
Yet, as people of faith, we affirm all those things above that love is, as it has to be at the heart of everything we say, do, and embody. It defines our identity as believers, and from that recognition, it defines our identities as human beings. The only real “commandment” Jesus leaves us with is the simple and yet powerful challenge: “Love one another.” This command is the only means by which the world will come to know the kindness of God – through our embrace and engaging of what it truly means to love.
And so here is the “rub,” if you will, because to “truly love” is much more than “being nice to each other,” or worse, “only nice to those who are nice in return.” It’s more than caring for or loving only those who are closest to me. No, to “truly love” is making oneself vulnerable, to dare to care when all seems lost or when it appears totally absurd even to continue loving.
To love in this way is an act of both faith and hope: If I dare to trust (which is really what faith is), then I can never be taken down by events in life because I remember who/what I trust in (which is what hope is), and this then gives me the courage and strength to act and not become petrified, afraid, or refuse to respond to/in any given situation. This is what love is!
At The Franciscan School, we are not so much about teaching a “love of learning” as we are about teaching what it means to “learn to love.” For our students, every subject studied, every accomplishment celebrated, every milestone achieved must find its inspiration and its origin in love. It’s the essence of what inspires us to dare to trust ourselves and others because the TFS community provides an environment that fosters an identity, which furnishes strength and courage to act, to learn, to achieve, to triumph so that we become the persons God has created us to be. We can only become those persons the more we are taught not to fear being vulnerable before others and to receive their care and support to lift us up, even when unasked.
It is for this reason that at TFS, we teach an adoration of service not “to” others, but rather “for” each other, because service is an act of relationship that only succeeds to the extent that we grow in relationship, in love, for one another. Service is not an asterisk on all the other facets of education we engage, it is the purpose and goal toward which all learning and wisdom is ordered and inspired by God – the flourishing of human persons as centers of love and hope and faith, always and everywhere working for the fulfillment of God’s promises for all people.
For the students, faculty, and staff of The Franciscan School, the question, “What’s love got to do with it? is answered simply with “everything”.