The simple meal that Jesus hosted with his disciples on the night before he died was packed with symbolism and meaning and divine love.
Our tradition holds that God is “agape,” i.e. love in the sense of self-gift. The tradition, e.g. 1 John 4:8 & 16, says that God is love (‘agape’), not that God is “one who loves.” “Love” is not the name of a person. It’s the name of a relationship between three persons. God is “Love.” God is the loving community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As a young student of theology I remember trying to grasp and make something practical of the Church’s teaching that the Holy Spirit was ‘the love between the Father and the Son.’ The doctrine felt dry and academic, and I used to wonder why there were big bitter fights over it in early Christianity.
‘If I had ever met someone who was a genuine Christian, I would have become one immediately’ – Gandhi.
Christians revere Jerusalem because the city is intimately tied to the final days of Jesus of Nazareth. The principal sites associated with his passion, death and resurrection are still there: Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, Golgotha, the Holy Sepulchre, and remnants of the temple where he prayed and taught.
Over the weekend I revisited Viktor Frankl’s little classic, “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Brian Keenan, who spent nearly five years as a hostage to terrorism in Beirut, called it ‘a hymn to the phoenix rising in each of us who choose life before flight.’ It’s Frankl’s formula for survival drawn from his horrific experiences in the Auschwitz death camp during WW2
This time of year, between Christmas and Lent, the gospels show us Jesus ‘going public’. There’s excitement in the air. He has good news: cripples are healed, the blind see, the sick and the great unwashed are given new hope and something better to live for.
The winter solstice has come and gone. Soon the days will lengthen. The long grass will grow again and birds will start to sing once more…. Once upon a time the true light came to our darkened world. It promised never to fade, dim or disappear. The shepherds, the Magi, even old Simeon and Anna in the temple recognised the light of the world.
“Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn3:18). These words of the Apostle John voice an imperative that no Christian may disregard. The seriousness with which the “beloved disciple” hands down Jesus’ command to our own day is made even clearer by the contrast between the empty words so frequently on our lips and the concrete deeds against which we are called to measure ourselves. Love has no alibi. Whenever we set out to love as Jesus loved, we have to take the Lord as our example; especially when it comes to loving the poor. The Son of God’s way of loving is well-known, and John spells it out clearly. It stands on two pillars: God loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:10.19), and he loved us by giving completely of himself, even to laying down his life (cf. 1 Jn 3:16).