Whenever people expend themselves, they want results. If they lay down their life, they want someone’s life raised up. If they empty themselves, they want someone to be filled. They want their sufferings to bear fruit.
If this doesn’t happen, they’re tempted to give up. The refusal of the gift quickly becomes a reason not to offer it. Instead of leaning into resistance with love, they’ll back off and say, “Well, we tried.”
However, the motive for offering love is not that it be successful. Christians want response, but they are not bound to it. They sacrifice for others because they are the recipients of sacrifice. They are the current generation of a long line of broken bodies and shed blood.
This gift Christians have received, they freely give. They join the living history in enacting the dream of God, [which] is a people sustained and transformed by mutual sacrificial love.
Contributed by: Fr. John Shea, “Love’s Motive,” in U.S. Catholic (March 1990). Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 7.