Today's first reading is at the very core of our understanding of God:
"God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us..."
One of our greatest challenges in the 21st century it seems to me is to recover the full depth and breath of all the gifts that God has given the human person: our intellect, our free will, and our capacity to love.
One of our great mistakes of the 20th century was our reduction of the human being to feelings, and our myopic focus on how we feel. From the insanity of a reporter asking a Sandy Hook parent "How do you feel?" to someone abandoning their marriage covenant because," I'm don't love you anymore."
Love is not a feeling, nor is it about following our feelings. Real love finds its source in God. As John reminds us, God is love and before we ever loved God, God loved us. The very reason for the creation of the first human beings was God's love of us.
Even science has now shown that every human being comes into the world with a need to be loved. An infant is fed but not held will not thrive.
More important is that when this real love is allowed to guide us, it is not a feeling but is what empowers us to do the right thing even when the right thing is contrary to how we feel.
How often did we make our parents so mad they were "ready to kill us", but love overcame the feelings.
As a society we see an event like Sandy Hook and the emotional response is to want to strike back, to kill the killer. When we are best, the Christian virtue of love intervenes and is able to see mental illness for what it is. Love conquers vengeance.
When you see a marriage that has lasted, they will all tell you there were moments when they did not feel "in love", but real love is what held them together through the hard times.
When Jesus calls us to love our enemies, we see most clearly how love runs contrary to our feelings. The good news is that over time as we choose to allow love to guide our words and actions, it can become a habit, and that habit we call virtue. It's not do what you feel, but do the right thing, and over time your feelings will change, we call that conversion.