In preparation for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015 and the visit from Pope Francis, a catechism on family life titled “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” has been prepared. Each month CatholicPhilly.com presents a reflection on one of the 10 chapters of the catechism written by its editor, Christopher Roberts of Philadelphia.

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Chapter 1 of the World Meeting of Families preparatory catechism taught that “Love is Our Mission” because love is our origin and destiny. God created us in his own image, which means that loving God and neighbor is the reason for our existence.

Chapter 2 explains that the Bible bursts with images describing God’s love – a father welcoming a prodigal son, a shepherd searching for lost sheep, a mother comforting her children, and many more (see paragraph #24 for details). But marriage is the dominant Biblical metaphor for God’s covenant with Israel and the Church.

The Bible is a love story between God and his people, and this love has all the dimensions of a good marriage: it is erotic and heart-felt, but it is also tough and sacrificial, weathering challenges and even betrayal. Jesus loves the Church like a groom loves his bride – even when we disappoint him, even when we hurt him.

In this way, Christianity reveals hope for us all, including married couples and families. God commands forgiveness and service because he loves us; forgiveness and mutual service can transform any marriage into a parable of God’s love. God is love, but there is nothing sentimental about this love.

God is love – and when we love like he loves, it will cost us, but it is the only way to live authentically and avoid counterfeit loves. Contemplating Christ on the cross, we gaze on the miracle that created and sustains us. Next month, in chapter 3, we’ll talk about God’s love, the human body, and sex.

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Did you know?

The 2015 World Meeting of Families, for which registration is now open, will welcome internationally renowned Catholic speakers in addition to speakers from other religious faiths. In a genuinely international spirit, 30 percent of the speakers will come from outside North America. Learn more at WorldMeeting2015.org.