What the world needs now and always

The Transforming Power of Love – Richard Rohr

     
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. —1 John 4:7–8 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. . . . This I command you: love one another. —John 15:12–14, 17

Love is perhaps the last thing anyone wants to be reminded of in these days following the election in the United States. Yet our resistance to love is precisely why we need to talk about it! We have strayed so far from love; and yet, love is the essence of who we are, and how we are called to treat one another.

“Whoever loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). Unfortunately, many Christians think, “If I read the Bible, I’m born of God; or if I go to church, I know God; or if I obey the commandments, I know God.” Yet the writer of 1 John says it’s simply about loving. Note that the converse is true also: “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). In the Gospel of John, Jesus takes this to its logical conclusion. He does not say, “There is no greater love than to love God.” Instead he says, “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends” (John 15:13). As biblical scholar Allen Dwight Callahan writes of this passage, “Jesus has loved his followers so that they may love each other. Love calls for love in turn. Love makes love imperative.” [1]

The beginning and end of everything is love. Only inside of this mystery of the exchange of love can we know God. If we stay outside of that mystery, we cannot know God.

When most of us hear the word “commandment,” we likely think of the Ten Commandments; that is not what Jesus is referring to here. He speaks of a “new” commandment surpassing and summing up the “ten” of the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 20:1–17; Deuteronomy 5:6–21): “This is my commandment: Love one another” (John 15:17). He also says that the entire law and the prophets are summed up in the two great commandments: to love God and to love one another (see Matthew 22:36–40). Perhaps we don’t want to hear these commandments because we can never live up to them through our own efforts. We’d like to whittle this down to a little commandment, like “Come to church on Sunday,” so that we could feel we have obeyed the commandment and accomplished love. But who of us can say that we have fully loved yet? We are all beginners. We are all starting anew every day, in utter reliance on the mercy, grace, and compassion of God. This is a good example of “the tragic gap” that faith always allows and fills.  

[1] Allen, Dwight Callahan Love Supreme: a history of the Johannine Tradition (Augsburg, Fortress, 2005, 78-79.

oOo

1 thought on “What the world needs now and always

  1. Tim O’Dwyer

    From LOVE THE LAW OF LIFE by T. Kagawa

    Eternal Love, pour forth! Thou within me, well up!
    The spring of Love flows only within the spirit. God
    is perennially the Indwelling One, Eternal Love.

    When this Inner Power is dynamic, it becomes erup-
    tive, revolutionary. This revolution of the Indwelling
    One may not be controlled by external rules. The
    revolution for Love is the most potent of revolutions.
    All revolutions heretofore, compared to the revolution
    of the Inner Power, are but as trivial games. The
    Divine Revolution of Love knows nothing to dread.
    revolution of Love, make ready within! Universal
    Love, prepare ! For the courage of Love must vanquish
    all that is vicious. Love alone knows justice; Love is
    the last Arbiter. Prepare ye the way for Love, for our
    God goes out to battle!
    When thou mournest, remember the God of Love;
    when thou weepest for thy sins, think of the atonement
    through the God of Love! On the verge of death, trust
    all to the Hand of Love! In the day when Justice is
    trampled down, in the day of weeping in patience, in
    the morn of poverty, in the eve of loss of employment,
    thou may est conquer only by inner Love!
    Hang not thy head, Comrade, creation of my soul!
    Before thee are placed the flowers of Love’s sacrifice!
    Shall we not, together, thou and I, through Love see
    the selfsame God!
    Love in its arms enfolds all. Love is my Holy of Holies. Through Love I ascend to the heights and de-
    scend to the depths. Love is all-pervading. Love leads
    man into the innermost shrine of reality. Love is the
    only eye that visions God. With this wonderful eye
    of Love, God and man behold one another. In Love,
    the eye of man becomes the eye of God. In Love is
    first achieved the interfusion of Divinity and humanity.

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