Sister Ruth's Reflection on Love

Sister Ruth's Reflection on Love

(In preparing this reflection, I have relied on others, especially Ilia Delio’s book, “Unbearable Wholeness of Being” which was a significant milestone in my spiritual journey.)

          In today’s gospel reading, we hear about the commandment of love again.  In fact, we have heard about love many times this past week. This is no surprise because the word “love” appears 56 times in John’s gospel, 5 of which are in today’s short passage.  The second word of importance is “Father.”  In John’s gospel the word “Father” occurs 113 times, 3 times in today’s verses.

          In his commentary Scott M. Lewis says:

 “Loving Jesus is only accomplished by keeping God’s commandments.  Although Jesus gave his disciples only one commandment - to love one another- it is clear from other passages and the letters of John that the other commandment is to believe that Jesus is the One sent from God.  Love is a mode of knowing God as well as an empowering principle, for both Jesus and the Father will love and reveal themselves to those who love Jesus.”

          Love is difficult to explain or describe because, as Ilia Delio says, “Love lives in persons not ideas.  Love is not a concept but a powerful, transforming energy that heals, reconciles, unites and makes whole.” 

When we read the Gospels, we will see that Jesus received this transforming energy through his deep relationship of love with the Father. He lived out of the deepest creative power of this love to bring forth life and wholeness in others from a motley crew of apostles to the thief on the Cross.  He widened the usual societal boundaries to include everyone.

          Love is often pictured as a flaming fire of intense heat and blinding light within.  It is the gift Jesus asked the Father to give us through the Advocate, the Spirit of truth.  We experience and/or get a glimpse of this gift of love in prayer and contemplation as well as through relationships with others. 

Ilia Delio says that God’s love at the heart of being empowers life toward more being and more life, and it is so irresistible that it lures us to want more.  I think this is what Jesus means when he says these words to us today. “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”  In pondering this quote in John’s gospel, we must take into account that he was writing around 90 AD.  John’s community came to be a Spirit-filled community through the experience of prayer, teaching and discernment of how to live together in God’s love. Revelation and understanding of the Word continued.  As a Christian community, this revelation continues to this day.

          How are we, then, being challenged today to live out this gift of love?  I will share several quotes from people of wisdom which I hope will help us to ponder and arise to new life in love.

The first quote is from Thomas Merton:

To love, you climb out of the cradle where everything is “’getting” and grow up to the maturity of giving, without concern for getting anything special in return.

For me, this truth became crystal clear when I came to understand that everything is gift.  I cannot earn it, but I trust in God’s promise.  I learned that the gift is not for me alone, but must be shared with no strings attached.  This is not always easy so you have to “climb out of the cradle" over and over.

The second quote is from John Zizioulas:

Having been embraced by God, we must make space for others in ourselves and invite them in – even our enemies.

Often I ask myself: “How welcoming or willing am I to be with those who disagree with me, whose idiosyncrasies “drive me crazy” or whose limitations try my patience?”  

And lastly from Ilia Delio:

God is the power of love to heal and transform what is dead to new life…

Our challenge today is to stay the course of love in a world that resists love, fears love, and rejects the cost of love.

During this pandemic, no doubt we have experienced moments of resistance, fear, and rejection of the cost of love.  As I thought about this I was reminded of the story of the priest who had the coronavirus who prayed the rosary with patients who were dying.  He eventually died.  But a doctor who witnessed this and had quit believing was brought back to life in God.  We never know how our simple acts of love and compassion bring forth life.

In summary, John’s gospel proclaims: “All persons have a call to love if they are alive, but Christians have a commitment to love.” (Jn. 13:34)


Sister Ruth Ksycki, May 17, 2020

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