Love Love me Do, The Power of Love, Love can build a bridge, Love can mend a broken heart, Endless Love, Love me Tender, Dream Lover, I can’t stop loving you, You’ve lost that loving feeling, Will you love me tomorrow………..
That is but a small sample of the songs that have been written about Love in the last 50 or 60 years – I went online to have a look at how many there were and one site listed just shy of 1200 love songs – I was going to read them all and end by thanking God for the gift of love but thought I might not get away with that.
But there is an important point in this – Our music is a reflection of our culture at any given time in our history – Music reflects the mood and the events of life both on the large scale and on the deeply personal scale – Think back to Band Aid when Bob Geldof’s song captured the moment of the Ethiopian famine and not only reflected the compassion of people for the starving but motivated people to take action. So we need to take music seriously. And obviously judging by the number of songs written about Love we need to take Love very seriously indeed!
In today’s Gospel from John 13 we have the support of our Lord in this prioritizing of Love.
‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
It is also important to be aware of the context of this command to Love – When we think of love we perhaps think of the excitement of first love, the embrace of a loved one, a wedding or even a cosy meal by candlelight.
It actually was at a meal that Jesus gave this command, probably by candlelight / torchlight but it was certainly wasn’t romantic! Jesus gave us the command to love one another at the Last Supper shortly after Judas had left the upper room on his way to betray Jesus!
So this central teaching of Jesus – this command to Love came in a moment of crisis, a moment of sadness, a moment of huge challenge and almost certainly fear.
That’s generally not how we think about Love – we have for the most part a very sanitized view of Love. We see it as a spontaneous thing, a mutual and balanced relationship between two people.
But Love is much more than that and to fully understand that we have to look to the events that were to follow that fateful night when Jesus gave us this command to Love.
The most perfect vision of Love that we can look to is the Cross – In the Cross God in Christ gives his life so that we may live…. He gives something that we can never return in equivalent scale. And in giving that Love, without demanding a return he actually transforms us and allows us the potential to be the best that we can be…..but it is our choice, God’s Grace freely given which we can decide to accept or reject…..Pure Love!
While we cannot match what God has done we can be what God has given us the potential to be – we can Love in a divine way and we too can be part of that transformative work. But it means practicing another kind of love – Don’t worry you don’t have to stop loving the people you already love but you and I are called to broaden the horizons of our love. So that means loving not just those who are family, not just those who deserve our love, not just those who we feel sorry for but also those we dislike, those we hate and those who hate us.
Why do that? Because if we like God take the initiative in showing Love to the undeserving and the stranger extraordinary things can happen – Look at Saul for example – He hated God with every fibre of his body and God Loved him into becoming his disciple. That is the example we are called to follow. We don’t have to to like everybody but difficult and all as it is we do have to Love everybody!
What does that look like today? Well it means taking off our Love blinkers and looking around us to see those in pain and despair and ask ourselves how my loving them could make a difference. It also involves thinking about our behaviour as consumers as we shop for cheap clothing which is brought to us at the expense of workers in desperate conditions in sweatshops throughout the world, as was highlighted in last weeks tragedy in Bangladesh. It means constantly asking ourselves what are the fruits of my actions – Are they furthering the cause of Love or are they furthering my own selfish desires.
May our example be the one who loved us more than we can ever comprehend. He loved us when we were unlovable and somehow through that love we were transformed. We do not need to wait for love to be deserved – if God had done that we would never have known his Love. Love is the first step, not the last – so let us Love and so transform the world into what God wishes it to be.