“The more one covets, the less one loves.” –From “Sermon in a Sentence: A Treasury of Quotations on the Spiritual Life; Vol. 5: St. Thomas Aquinas,” pg. 52. Selected and Arranged by John P. McClernon.
8 words, so much truth. When we covet, we seek for that which is not rightfully ours to have, or we seek it inordinately. Therefore, how can it be love? Some will argue that in order to love, we must hold to a dream, an ideal, a person, an object so tightly that we would rather die than let it go, rather die than share it with others, rather die than let anyone else in on the joy we feel when we possess whatever is the object of our admiration. It is true that we must love God, we must cling to Him and never let go of the faith. This is true. But in doing this, do we not also seek to share it with others? Do we selfishly hold it to ourselves and use it as a leverage to count ourselves above other people? Absolutely not. This is not the kind of behavior that draws people into the love of God, but rather turns them away. Why?
Well, because when we do this, we are coveting. It is not truly love because we are only seeking to gain something for ourselves from it. We think that only we are worthy of its goodness. The fact is, when it comes to God’s love, NO-ONE is worthy of that goodness. It is a gift to us, and it should humble us rather than puff us up to know that God has chosen us, unworthy as we are, to be the recipients and the reciprocators of His great love.
Love is not boastful and it does not envy. These words are clearly spoken by St. Paul to warn us against false charity. Love is giving of itself, it is sacrifice, it is gentle and mild, it is truth. When we boast or are envious of the good of others, or we hold the good that we have solely to ourselves, we are coveting, which is the opposite of what love really is.
Let us remember this when we feel hesitant to give alms, to spend time in prayer, to give of ourselves for the good of our neighbor and the love of God. The more we give of ourselves, the less we covet, and the more we love.