Love has no logic—with what logic does a saint pray for reptiles and demons? It is religion that has logic, armored with the panoply of the law. Logic and law are the weapons of religion, the weapons that protect the ego.
Religion: Individualistic metaphysical convictions. Individualistic morality. Individualistic efforts to propitiate the Divine. The logically correct convictions that foster certainty. Moral behavior, fortified by law to ensure esteem and power. Worship, overloaded with sentimentality, a trampoline of psychological comfort.
Love begins where such armorings of the ego end. When the Other is more important than our own survival. More important even than any justification, any transient or eternal reassurance. A readiness to accept even eternal damnation for the sake of the one you love, or those you love: It is the distinguishing mark of love, that is, of the Church. “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ, for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race” (Rom. 9:3).
In the Church’s gospel the loving person embodies the mode of life, and the religious person the mode of death. A revealing image of the difference: the contrast between the prostitute who anoints Christ’s feet with myrrh, and the religious bystander who complains at the waste of the myrrh (Matt. 26:6-12; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50). Love and death in a revealing contest.
The prostitute’s repentance—and undisguised act of love: She buys the precious myrrh without calculating the cost. She pours the myrrh lavishly, and sheds copious tears to wash Christ’s feet. She unties her hair, and lets it fall in cascades to dry them. Such intensity of love, and the religious bystander blind and uncomprehending: He measures the deed by the moral standard of usefulness. “Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor” (Matt. 26:8-9). The prostitute loves lavishly and without calculation, without law or logic. The religious bystander weighs the logical intentionality of the deed and the degree of moral benefit.
The religious bystander—the person of the law—is not interested in the poor. What interests him is the practice of almsgiving. Accountable in terms of individual merit. The drawing down of profit from the Divine Remunerator. Perhaps he needs God only as a remunerator, only for his own individual righteousness. That is why the intensity of the prostitute’s love is incomprehensible to him, because it lies outside the logic of exchange.
The prostitute seeks nothing. She does not offer repentance in order to draw down righteousness. She does not expect anything in return. Nor does she hasten to make promises of conformity to the law. She only offers. That which she has, and that which she is. “She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8). Boldly, without fear of exposure or rejection. With the intensity of wholehearted self-denial. “For she loved much” (Luke 7:47).
The silence of the prostitute in the Gospel is the dissolution of law, the rubbishing of logic. It is love’s silence that speaks only with what it gives; without any concern for a responsive echo. Our soul, like any prostitute, cannot be in love so long as it is caught in the net of transitory, distracting satisfactions, the chatter of logic, the guarantee of remuneration provided by the law. Love is born when “suddenly” the futility of meretricious exchange becomes evident. The futility of merits, of our virtues, our good name, treasures laid up which prove incapable of destroying death. Love is born when “suddenly” the unique hope of life shines forth: “he who raises the dead.” You must pass through death to arrive at love.