Back in the Middle Ages alchemy was popular. It believed that transmutation, the changing of some essential element into a superior form, could be possible. For example many alchemists tried to change lead into gold through various experiments using heat and the mixing of liquids. They also tried to concoct various elixirs to cure diseases, to prolong human life, to make people happy and to even make a person fall in love with another person. Alchemy experiments for the most part were ineffectual, yet eventually led to the development of pharmacology and the rise of modern chemistry.
An old medieval story records that John Ironwood obtained a love-potion type of elixir to make Mary Lakewood fall in love with him so he could marry her. He secretively poured the elixir into her soup and soon afterwards she fell deeply in love with him. They married and soon had a large wonderful family. Now you would think that they would live happily ever after. But they didn’t. John had everything he ever wanted, but he was not happy. Why? Because throughout the years he was plagued with a question; would she have ever loved me without the elixir?
Our modern society perpetuates the great lie that love can be won through an elixir. The elixir may be in the form of money, power, a beautiful body, a certain car, certain clothes, or by being the most popular person at work or school. Today’s readings speak about a different type of love that transforms people and society from within. It is called Christian love. Christian love is not forced. It isn’t caused by an elixir of any sort from this world.
Love, true love, lasting love, only results in the Love of Christ. And that love becomes a magnet. If a person loves the Lord, that love itself will attract other people who are seeking the Lord. Perhaps it will attract a person who is looking to marry for the right reasons; certainly it will attract others who are looking for a non-superficial meaning to their life.
Let’s consider Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Why were so many people attracted to her? Certainly some felt called to join her in making the teachings of Jesus a reality. But there was even more than this that attracted people to Mother Teresa. They were drawn by her love for Jesus. And like a magnet, that love flowed through her into them. And then they attracted others to Christ. The love of Christ flowed through her into others. And it still does even today.
Most of us have been attracted by the dynamism, the magnetism of Jesus Christ and those that respond to His love. Jesus sums up the commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
Saint Augustine put it this way: “Once and for all, a short rule is laid down for you: Love and do what you will. If you keep silence, do it out of love. If you cry out, do it out of love. If you refrain from punishing, do it out of love. Let the root of love be within you. From such a root, nothing but good can come.”
Jesus Christ is the true Elixir of Love. He is the only potion that brings peace and happiness. We pray today for the courage to return the love Jesus has for us and that His Love will flow through us into today’s world.