Here is Deacon Lyn's Homily for the Sixth Week of Lent, 2018
Whoever loves is born of God and knows God.” 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 John says it’s simply about loving. Note that the inverse is true also. “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 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.
We might expect Jesus to say, “There is no greater love than to love God.” But Jesus says, “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends.” In my work of Hospice I see and experience this love/God. It’s in the poor and dying, that I see God’s Love comes alive. See what really is important in life. Family and friends support their loved one. Letting them know that their life had meaning. By their self-giving love, their compassion that they love them into eternity. Do they miss their physical presence, absolutely. A large hole is in their heart. But trusting in God & allowingGod to fill that emptiness.
The other day I had older lady, love to hold your hand. Listen to faith journey, how she relied on God, tried to do her best, by loving others. Her sharing her faith journey strengthened mine. She planned her service & the party. Seeing and experiencing God’s love and mercy.
The scripture emphasize the centrality and the importance of love. The beginning and end of everything is love. Only inside of the mystery of love—mutual self-emptying and infilling—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. But Jesus speaks of a “new” commandment surpassing and summing up the “ten” of the Hebrew Bible “This is my commandment: Love one another.”
He also says: “The entire law and the prophets is summed up in the two great commandments: to love God and to love one another”
Perhaps we don’t want to hear this commandment because we can never live up to it through our own efforts. We’d like to whittle it down to a little commandment, like “Come to church on Sunday.” This is a start. But who of us can say we have really loved yet? We’re all beginners. We’re all starting anew every day, and we’re failing anew every day. Loving as imperfect, egoic human beings keeps us in utter reliance upon the mercy, compassion, and grace of God. We can never fully succeed by ourselves.
It seems God gave us a commandment that we could not obey. Perhaps this is so we would have to depend upon the Holy Spirit & relationship with the Trinity. This is the greatness, the goodness, the wonder, the impossibility of the Gospel, that it asks of all of us something we—alone, apart, separate—cannot do! Only by living in love, in communion, in relationship —God in us and we in God, do we find, every once in a while, a love flowing through us and toward us and from us that is bigger than our own. And we surely know it’s not “we” who are doing it!
What are we to do? How can we change things that seem so much bigger than they are? Here are three was in which we might try.
First, let us truly try to love one another. Talk is cheap: we all know how hard this is. Let us see if we can find ways to view others with the eyes of the heart, in the same way that God sees us. This doesn’t mean you have to become best friends with your enemies, but perhaps we can soften our own hearts to love them in some fashion. How does this help someone else who feels left out? Leave that in God’s hands. The dynamism of the Spirit does something because softer hearts are inclined to love. God initiates all; so if one person, or group, that you have a problem with, try to let it go with love. Together, let us pray to surrender to that love; we may be surprised by the results!
Secondly, let another person love you. We all know people that we keep at arm’s length, or even push away. We may feel too busy, not sure of their intentions. Maybe it is someone you keep at arms’ length, but whom you have not really “let in” you heart. Ask God for help, and see what happens by letting them love you first. Remember, that Jesus’ command is lived out fully when we love one another. Are you willing to try?
Third, let God love you. What? Yes, let God love you…. As you are. Warts and All! We all put on a mask or pesona for the world, even for those close to us. We don’t want to disappoint those we love, especially God. It may seem easier to cover up and not reveal the parts of ourselves to others, but God sees and knows all, even if we imagine or pray that God doesn’t. Take the bandage off of the wound of your heart, and let God’s love in. See what healing happens. Like Peter, we are human, but we can love. Be patient and do what you can; God will do the rest.
These three kinds of attempts of loving and being loved are how Jesus transforms the world, and how we can lift others up in that love. We are all transformed through this love! Go change the world, and be changed by the power of God. Go forth in Love!