“That source of love we call God is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, the word of love among us, and in the Holy Spirit, God as love enacted within us and among us. The only antidote to the brokenness of the word is to surrender to love, to let that love act in us and through us, even when we know it may ultimately lead to heartbreak.”
– Heidi Russell (professor at Loyola University Chicago)
I’ve been thinking a lot about love over the past few days. Maybe because it’s the word I’ve chosen to focus on for the year, maybe because it is February and Valentine’s Day is drawing near and being overly advertised or maybe it is because the famous reading about love – 1 Corinthians 12.31-13.13 was proclaimed this weekend at Mass. No matter the reason it is good to ponder love. I’ve been trying to see love deeper than the kind words or nice sentiments. I have been trying to reflect on it as my way of life. Where is love in my life? Where do I make known love? How do I know love? How do I love? What is love when I feel alone or broken? These are the questions that make me ponder the depth of love. When I read the above quote by Heidi Russell my ponderings on love seemed a bit more synced. God “within us and among us” is the only way love can make sense. It is the only way love makes sense to me as I discover its depth more and more. No matter our journey, no matter how abused or broken human love is; no matter how challenging we find it to love our neighbours because we struggle to love ourselves; no matter how shallow love may seem as we use it to describe everything from committed relationships to hockey teams from TV shows to food to our families, love is among us. Love is among us because God does not abandon us. God cannot abandon us for God is love and God created us in love. Even when our image of God may be broken, or distorted or non-existent God’s love is still “within us and among us.”
It is in surrendering to love, the love that is God, the love that is lasting that we can walk in love no matter what. I was reminded of that again this past week as I was leading a retreat and shared a story about my niece Cailey.
When Cailey was about 5 or 6 I returned home to my parent’s home after being away she came bounding down the hallway and leapt into my arms in a big hug. When I say leapt, I mean like half way down the hallway she was in the air already and her arms and legs were ready to completely embrace me. It was from that moment on that I told her she gives the best hugs – because she does – but also because her hugged reminded me about God’s deep love for me (for us). It also speaks to me now about my own surrendering into God’s love. Am I willing to leap? Am I willing to trust that God will catch me and embrace my all? How is this in tune with my daily desire to be a vessel for God? Am I open enough to know that even in heartbreak that God’s love is within and among me?
1 Corinthians 12.31- 13.13 is for us an examination of living and loving.
Do we strive for greater gifts?
How do we speak of others? Ourselves? Do we do so with love?
Do we gather up knowledge and wealth and relationships for our selfish pleasure?
How do we love? How do we make love known?
In this letter to the Corinthians the famous passage reads: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or rude… it is not irritable or resentful… it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This is the power of love and more than one commentator, mystic and author has suggested that we should substitute our name in place of the word love. Now that is a true examination of living and loving.
How am I love?
Am I patient? Am I kind?
Am I hopeful?
How do we reflect love? How do reflect Christ?
How do we open ourselves up to God’s true love?
What does faith look like in my life?
What does hope look like?
How does love live within me and among me?
Do I trust in love even in the heartaches?
Can I allow God’s love into my brokenness?
Can I surrender my all to love?
Where and what is love in my life? What and who do I love?
With this examination of living and loving to ponder, I leave you with another thought from Heidi Russell, “we take the risk again and again to love other human beings, despite their tendency to disappoint and to die, and to love God who has enabled us to love by first loving us.”
God of Love, enable us to love, we pray. Amen.