Although I am only 25, I could share quite a few different perspectives on love and what it means to me and those I care for. Then there is the fact that I cannot get The Beatles “All You Need is Love,” out of my head, and my husband would find this greatly amusing. So I’m going to share the love with you.
Then I will share the randomness of how my brain works. I can’t help listening to this song and then have 1 John 4:8 pop into my head, “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” Now I’m am nearly certainly positive that The Beatles were not making this connection when this song was written and recorded, but I want to share specifically the second verse and the chorus with one key change that I’m going to let you discover.
There’s nothing that can know that isn’t known,
Nothing you can’t see that isn’t shown,
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you are meant to be,
All you need is God,
All you need is God,
All you need is God,
God is all you need.
Lennon/McCartney – Adaptations in italics are my own (substitute God for love)
In 1 John 4, John, makes it very clear that love is essential to faith and in the eighth verse makes the bold statement that “God is love.” Taking into account a couple of mathematical principles, we can easily say God = Love and making a quick substitution for God in the lyrics of a Beatles song still makes sense.
Going back to the beginning, we know that God creates man and woman with a purpose and the Baltimore Catechism teaches it as such, “God made man to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.” This is pretty clear when God tells man to have dominion over the earth and it’s creatures, plus to honor and love God by not eating from the Tree of Knowledge. In short we know what God asked from Genesis chapters 1 and 2, then that pesky snake comes into the picture in chapter 3.
Satan doesn’t often tempt us with what we do not already know. God told Adam and Eve, don’t eat from that tree or you will die. It wasn’t that God didn’t make enough other plants that they could have eaten from. We also know that it was the tree of knowledge. Although Adam and Eve had free will they did not know what a negative consequence was without eating from that tree, Adam and Eve were completely protected from that knowledge.
So Satan stealthily slithers in and tells Eve the truth, “[…] You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” Genesis 3: 4 – 5, and he was telling her the truth. God knows what good and evil is and wanted to spare Adam and Eve from that because God already knew what the consequences would be. The consequence wouldn’t be physical immediate death, but the physical separation between God and humanity. The complete consequence for humanity in that separation, as defined by both the Baltimore Catechism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1033), is Hell.
So why all this focus on love?
Love is the key to all of Salvation History. Love is why Moses was able to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and why they stayed in the desert for 40 years. Love is why David built the temple and why David was forgiven for what happened with Bathsheba. Love is why Abraham was given Issac, why Issac was sacrificed and why Issac was spared. Love, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life,” John 3:16.
God’s love doesn’t stop there. We have the sacraments, grace, prayers, the mass, Saints and saints, forgiveness, virtues and the list just continues in great abundance. It is no wonder that we call love the greatest of all virtues. “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13: 13
In short, The Beatles may have been onto something when they said, “all you need is love,” but the fullness of that statement should be, all we need is God.