Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Oliver, in the musical by that title, asked, "Where is Love?" Tina Turner asks, in the biopick by the same name: "What's Love Got to Do With It?" If we are referring to genuine love, then the answer to the first question is that love is everywhere; and to the second question, that it has everything to do with our lives.  In fact, you might even use another song title to answer the question, "Love is all there is."

Saint John, in his first letter, encourages us to love one another. Not, he goes on to say, because we find someone else loveable, or because we are loveable ourselves.  Rather, we should love one another because God has first loved us.  Some of us find that hard to believe.  Instead, we are convinced that, if we are sinful, God will stop loving us.  Some of us heard that from our teachers in parochial school, or in catechism classes.  Some of us may even have heard that from our own parents:  If you don't behave yourselves, God won't love you.  Whenever I hear that, usually from someone who has been away from the sacraments for a long time, my response is:  God loves you, and it is because he loves you that you are talking to me now.  I am going to absolve you from your sins, and God is going to forgive your sins, because he loves you.  God doesn't love us because we're striving to be perfect.  God knows, better than any of his creatures, that no creature can attain perfection: only God is perfect.  

God doesn't forgive us because we deserve to be forgiven.  An offense against God can only be compensated for by someone who is of equal rank with God.  But an offense committed by a human being can be atone for only by someone who is human.  God loved us so much that he gave us his only Son, who took human form and flesh so that he could atone to God for our sins, because he alone is both true God and true Man.  So, if God the Father sent his son into the world to save us, not condemn us; and if God the Son accepted death on the cross to atone for our sins, because he loved us, then someone in the class who think they're smarter than the teacher is going to ask:  Where's the Holy Spirit in all this?   The answer: Within the Trinity, even before the beginning of time, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father.  God's love for God is the Holy Spirit.  God's love for us is the Holy Spirit who inspires the people of his church, and the people of every nation, race and time, to love one another not because we're loveable, but because God has loved us, in spite of the truth that we're not loveable.

The scriptures ask the question:  How can we love God, whom we have never seen, if we do not love our brothers and sisters whom we see every day?   The answer:  We can do it by imitating God, who loves us even when we're unloveable.   When we love one another as brothers and sisters, because we see one another as God's children, then God's spirit is dwelling within us.  GOD IS LOVE, AND WHOEVER ABIDES IN LOVE ABIDES IN GOD, AND GOD IN THEM.

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