John Paul II has a poem entitled “The Goldsmith’s Shop”. A woman abandoned by her husband decided to sell her wedding ring. The goldsmith weighed it and, fixing his eyes on the woman, said to her: “The wedding ring weighs nothing. The scale doesn’t even move. Is your husband still alive? But my scales do not weigh the vile metal, they only weigh what exists in people”.
A married person weighs nothing alone. Between friends, only requited love tips the scales. It is the love that is shared, the love that serves others, that has weight and value. “Love is my weight,” declared Saint Augustine. We weigh as much as the kilos of our love for God and neighbour.
Often, however, love is counterfeited like certain brand-name products. Love is written, love is sung, love is filmed, love is trampled on the floor, love is pasted on the walls. Mere sexual attraction or even physical relations with a person without having moral relations with him or her is called love. The simple carnal act, carried out without any love, perhaps between strangers, is called “making love”.
Attention, I am not condemning the love that is expressed in sexual self-giving. Sex is a way for the total encounter of two beings, soul and body. And there is nothing more beautiful or purer than this meeting of two beings, in mutual self-giving and mutual recognition. Love that does not seek mere personal satisfaction in the beloved, but the happiness and perfection of both, has an infinite weight.
Another love that tips the scales is that between parents and children, between people with whom we work, with whom we travel, with whom we are distracted; and the love that is professed for all human beings, especially the weakest and poorest.
I am convinced that we are worth what our love is worth. Hence I draw the following conclusion: just as we clean the car, choose our clothes, go to the hairdresser, do gymnastic exercises, so we should also devote some of our time to taking care of our own heart. In it live the feelings that make us happy or unhappy, useful or useless: aggressiveness, irritation, indifference, vile desires… or else kindness, gratitude, a kind word, timely praise, encouragement, an affectionate gesture.
Wherever our heart hangs, there we bow. We defend, with all our intelligence and all our willpower, what our heart desires. Love makes us blind to the faults of others or shines a spotlight on their qualities. We do not see with our eyes, but through our eyes. We see with our heart. According to our heart, we discover in each face a person or we pass by him or her indifferently as if he or she were a tree or a post. The heart chooses the ideas, the type of relationships, the politics, the system we fight for. Love transforms words into launching weapons or into bridges that bring people together and reconcile.
There are people of whom it is said: “He has a heart of gold”. At their side we feel heavenly, because they give out sympathy and generosity with their hands full and not in pharmacy doses.
It is certainly important to control our body weight. Too much fat ruins our health. But let us not be afraid of increasing the “weight” of our heart, the tonnage of our soul. Because money, culture, career, success, prestige can be, for us, precious metals. But we are rich and happy to the extent that the weight of our heart, the gold of our life, increases.
Abílio Pina Ribeiro, cmf