Interesting that when I first read this passage I didn't worry about Bruenner's definition of “love.” Ironically, I was reminded of Justice Potter Stewart’s well known approach to the definition of “obscenity:” “I know it when I see it.”
Not to oversimplify, but I think most of us usually know love when we see it, whether we're on the giving or the receiving end. I spent my meditation period this morning thinking about some of the many ways that I have loved and been loved just in this past week.
I thought of all the people who love me or have loved me, who have helped bestow on me my identity. Then I thought of the great responsibility I have toward my students and my brother monks if it's true that “Our identity as persons is bestowed on us in the love which others have for us… This has to be especially true for adolescents who are still trying to find out who they are, to find their "identity as persons." If Bruenner is right, then I have the responsibility of helping each of my students to form his identity as a person, and to do it through loving them. What does "loving" mean in this case? Well, here I echo Justice Stewart's answer:"I know it when I see it."
Then there was the other shoe that needed to drop: Our identity is equally determined by the love we have for others.
How good am I at loving others, I asked myself. Do I know what love is? Again Justice Potter came to the rescue: generally "I know it when I see it."
Let the Feast of the Holy Trinty be an occasion for us to look at our lives from the point of view of love, and develop a sharper eye for seeing love when we come across it every day.