In the Word during these last two weekends we have experienced images of love linked to intimacy: the Good Shepherd, and the vine and branches. We hear how to lay down one’s life for a friend is the example Jesus gave us. To live for another is love: Mom-like, and Christian. Love and sacrifice—love is sacrifice. Most of us have experienced the blessing of the sacrifices our Moms have made for us—because they love us. (Happy Mother’s Day!)
If we love, we also must experience many “deaths” in our relationships. There are little and big deaths. They range from giving the last piece of cake to your spouse (and denying yourself) to not sleeping while caring for a sick child, to sharing your home with an elderly parent who needs special care. We experience “deaths” in the putting of others first, the denying of ourselves, our own preferences. This is not much “fun” and is never easy...
So why do we do this? (And we do! Just look around you and listen to the stories of your fellow parishioners!) We do this because we know that what Jesus did for us is what we are all called to do for others. We do this because we love even when it isn’t easy. Sometimes we do this because the benefits of the sacrifices of love are eternal. But, surprise! There is joy in living in love this way: “I have told you this (says Jesus) so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” Love helps and inspires us to develop deeper self-knowledge. For this reason our relationships with others can help us face and understand ourselves more quickly and profoundly, more than any other aspect of worldly life. Looking at love this way, love becomes a path of awakening for us— rousing us from the sleep of the old, unconscious patterns into the newness and the immediacy of l i v i n g fully in the present, and in accordance with who we really are. This is the source of a deeper, and more enriching kind of happiness. This happiness goes far beyond pleasure and comfort and is the only real basis for healthy and satisfying relationships. We are awakened to new life by love!
What else does Jesus tell us today? “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love...” As Christ told Lady Julian of Norwich (1342–1416) when he showed her a small thing the size of a hazelnut nestled in her hand, “It is all that is created.” Julian understood that “Everything that is, has its being through the love of God.” (We just celebrated “Earth Day” and love for all Creation.) God is the foundation for all the kinds of love there are in the world. Love is who we are. When we don’t live according to love we are outside of our created being—and basically not real or true to ourselves. When we love, we are acting according to our deepest being, our deepest truth, and we are the person we were all created to be.
We are commanded to love one another, (a command; not a suggestion!), and love always means some sacrifi c e with little (and some not so little) sacrifices—and we understand the benefit of sacrifice as a deepening of our spiritual selves and the opportunity for holiness, and wholeness. L o v e i s always about deeds and truth. Love is action. “This I command you: love one another.”
Happy Mother’s Day
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Some love songs of awakening and sacrifice...