Saturday, April 17, 2010

Homily: Love Languages

Fr. Michael J. Denk

Homily “Love Languages”

Year C, 3rd Sunday of Easter

April 18, 2010

St. Barnabas – 5pm and 7:30 am


There are many ways to say I love you:

In English it is “I love you.”

Do you know how to say it in any other languages?

In French… Je t'aime

In Spanish… Te quiero

In Italiano… Ti amo

Croatian… Volim te

Greek… S'agapo

German… Ich liebe dich

Hawaiin… Aloha wau ia 'oe

Irish… taim i' ngra leat

Korean… Tangsinul sarang ha yo

Polish… Ja Cie Kocham

Swahili… Naku panda

Sign Language…

There are many different ways to say I love you… Jesus asks Simon Peter three times “Do you love me?” And each time he tells him to “Feed my Sheep.” Jesus is helping Simon Peter to see that it is important not only to affirm someone by telling them that you love them, but also to show that you love them through service.

Jesus asks Peter to say it and to do it… I love you.

It is important that we both tell people that we love them and that we show them that we love them. Both are important. Both are essential.

Often times I here men say “I love my wife, I don’t need to tell her I love her, she should know that.” When I ask them how she should know that they say. “Listen Father, I provide for the family, I work all day, I take care of her, I fix things around the house, I fill up her car, I’ve bought her all this stuff… I love her; she should know that I do.”

He’s speaking his primary love language, which is service, to her. However her primary love language may be “Words of Affirmation.” She understands love by affirmation. So she may say to me… “Father we’ve been married for fifty years…” and I can see the tears well up in her eyes. “He never tells me He loves me.” It is not enough for you to do Acts of Service for her. She needs to HEAR it. She needs the Words of affirmation of “I love you.” “Your Beautiful” “You mean so much to me.”

Let me give you an example of what happens when we don’t speak someone else’s language. Shortly after I was ordained I went to Rome on a pilgrimage. I took my family and some close friends. One of the funniest parts was watching my mother and her sisters. These three Italian sisters were in their home land, but they didn’t know a word of Italian. Now this is how the scene would play out every time. They stopped in a local deli to buy some milk, but they wanted Skim Milk. So my aunt kept grabbing the flab on the side of her waist saying – “no fat… no fat”… And when they got to the register and it was 16 Euro my mother questioned the Italian lady and said “How much was this milk? How much is the salami?” Now the Italian lady is getting madder and madder and each time she grabbed the meat slamming it on the counter saying "O Maronna Mia"!! . So my mother is saying in English “How much is this milk?” The Italian Lady had no clue what she was saying. So here’s what my mother would do. She would say it louder. “How much is this milk?” And she wouldn’t understand, so again my mother louder… HOW… MUCH… IS… THIS… MILK? Somehow or another my mother is thinking that if she just said it louder maybe this lady will “get it.” But of course she won’t. The Italian lady speaks… Italian. And if my mother really wanted her to understand she would have to learn how to speak some Italian.

So imagine that Love can be understood in different ways and that we all speak different languages of love. Some people like to say it and hear it, others show their love by service, some show their love by hugging and affection, some show their love by diamond rings and gifts, and some show their love by spending time with those that are important to them.

There’s a wonderful book that helps illustrate this called “The Five Love Languages.” This is a great book for married couples, but also for all of us who need to show and express love. And as Jesus shows Peter we need to not only say it, but do it.

The Author, Dr. Gary Chapman, writes from a Christian and Scriptural perspective, describes that there are five basic love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Just like my mother speaks English and the Italian Lady Speaks Italian. We probably all have one of these Love languages that we are most fluent in. However if we want to express our love to others and have them really “get it.” We need to learn their primary love language.

All too often, like my mother, we speak the language we are most comfortable with. And when they don’t get it we just speak it louder. And then we end up frustrated. So a guy’s primary love language might be gifts. He brings his wife flowers all the time, buys her earrings and bracelets, and when she doesn’t seem to feel loved, what does he do? Instead of trying to learn her love language he just speaks his louder buying her more expensive gifts and he can’t figure out why she doesn’t feel loved. But gifts aren’t important to her she just wants his time. She just wants to spend an uninterrupted afternoon or evening with him. Instead of buying her more gifts he needs to try and speak her language which is quality time and spend some quality time with her.

Another example is a guy who is starving for affection. His love language is physical touch. He just wants to be touched by his wife. Her primary love language is Acts of Service so she cleans the house, she cooks, she irons, she washes, and she thinks I do all this for him, how can he not know that I love him. But he understands love through touch. He needs to be kissed and hugged and embraced. Until she learns his love language there is going to be a lot of hurt and disappointment in their marriage.

This can also be the same for parents and children. I here some old men say that they never heard their father say they loved them. They’ve held on to this hurt all of their lives. Their father may have tried to show it by acts of service his whole life, but that love was never really felt or understood by his child because he so wanted to here it… “I love you son.” The same is true with physical affection. I know that that was just something men didn’t do. But your child may need to be embraced. Or maybe it’s just quality time that they need from you, just some time for you and them, a father and his son going fishing or camping. A mother shopping with her daughter and going to see a movie. You can provide the world for them, but you also need to be able to express to them “I do love you.” They may need to hear it in words or feel it with a hug or a pat on the back or realize it by a day spent together just with them.

It is important not only that we speak the language of love but that we show it. It is important that we learn to become fluent in other peoples love language and express our love in all five ways but especially in the way that they are most comfortable. And this is what real love is – to love someone else as they need to be loved and not as we prefer. This is the “Feeding my sheep” that Jesus asks of Peter.

How many different ways do you know how to say I love you? How many different ways do you know how to show it? Do you express love using Words of Affirmation? Do you express by spending “Quality Time” with the one you love? Do you express love through thoughtful “Gifts?” Do you express love through Acts of Servcie? And do you Express love through Physical Touch?

All of these are important and ALL of these are necessary. It is important that we both Say I LOVE YOU and show that I LOVE YOU.

It’s important that we become fluent in all the different languages of love and not just the one we are most comfortable with. If you want someone to really know that you love them, then you must learn to speak their love language. If you just keep saying it in your language louder and louder you’re both just going to end up frustrated and resentful.

Jesus was helping Simon Peter to see that Love needs to be expressed in both words and deeds. There are many ways of expressing love and the more fluent we are in expressing it in a variety of words and deeds the more the people we love will know that you love them with all of your heart.

The Five Love Languages:

Take the Love Languages Assessment:

Available at Grismer’s (They keep it in stock for me).

1 comment:

  1. That really helps "feed my sheep" make so much more sense. This homily leaves me thinking about many things. Very interesting. Thanks. God Bless.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.