Sixth Sunday in Easter Reflection
A moment of insight and suddenly I am touched by an 800-year-old lament. St Francis, roaming the streets of his beloved Assisi, the streets that contained the dwellings of his family, his friends, and the world he knew and loved: “Love is not Loved, Love is not Loved”. More than just a tearful lament, St Francis mystical experience allowed him to see and understand with heart-wrenching clarity that those he loved in his home town of Assisi did not know Love, know the source of Love and had chosen an illusion of Love that leads only to death. To see those around you, those who are near and dear to you, choosing a path of suffering, a road to eternal death, we also must lament “Love is not Loved, Love is not Loved”. This was St Francis call to action, a call to repentance.
How can we recover this Love that leads to the peace that Jesus promised his disciples? How do we recognise within ourselves that emptiness, that abyss, that foundation of sand upon which we have based our hope and our lives? Yes, Love is an emotion like fear and the anger we use to hide that fear, yet unlike fear and anger, Love has an additional dimension of time. Unlike fear and anger which may last a moment or day or a decade, Love that is real, Love that is true, Love that is beautiful, must have a dimension that touches the eternal, the transcendent. There is deep within us and intuition and recognition of this truth.
Our Hollow Feelings
We have reached our hearts desire, fallen in Love with the person of our dreams, reached the pinnacle of success and fame, we are living the dream of wealth and youth, but already the worm of decay is at work and there is the taste of loss on our lips, a hollow feeling within, even at the very moment the crown is placed upon our head. With bitter resolve we cling to our Loved ones, cling to our relationships, cling to our success and fame, and cling to our wealth and youth; clinging, clinging even as we see these slipping away from our grasp, and so we divert ourselves and look the other way. This is the restless programming that robs us of our peace, robs us of our joy! We need more, we must have more time.
The apostles also clung to Jesus. But in this, they were thinking not of Jesus, but of themselves. He told them so “If you Loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I”. For Jesus to go back to the Father was the goal of his life; creating a bridge by which we also could reach our transcendent vocation, that union to the source of Love that is eternal.
Much of society has bought into the Globe advertising of this world, feeding our selfishness and narcissism. In this atmosphere, possessive Love is very common. Some parents are very possessive in their Love for their children. Haying given life to them, they refuse to let them live that life in their own way. The same thing happens in some marriages. We can hold onto positions of authority as stepping stones to power instead of service. Possessive Love causes much suffering in our world. Possessive Love leads to jealousy and envy that destroys all peace and joy. Possessive Love leads to resentment, war, and murder.
Growth, progress, change, and transformation call for a letting go, a loss of something which we have at the present time and which we value dearly. When we willingly let go of people, they can leave us without us feeling that they are abandoning us. And we open ourselves to receive something new from them, something they could not give us unless they left. Love can only be nurtured and grow in freedom.
The Meaning of Life: Our Purpose
Many people are searching right now. Some people are searching for a job, financial stability, or a way forward amidst economic turmoil. Others are searching for meaning, wondering if anything in life really matters, or even if they matter. Without that bedrock that is God in our lives, without union with God who is the source of Love that is eternal, the meaning of life slips through our fingers.
Many are searching for a connection with other human beings, whether that is friendship, deepened intimacy, or someone with whom to grow old with. And, many more are searching for a way out, a way out of pain in all its forms, a way out of disappointment, regret, shame, anger, sadness, loss, anxiety, and fear.
The secret to achieving inner peace lies in understanding our inner core values; those things in our lives that are most important to us, and then seeing that they are reflected in the daily events of our lives. This is living with integrity.
Jesus tells us that in him we can find that core value of who we really are and what our purpose is. It is in this person of Jesus who is the ‘Incarnated Word of God’, that this peace is to be found. This ‘Word of God’ that ‘was God and with God’, even before time and space were created, is the very essence of God; the intent of God that brings order to chaos; the blueprint that is reflected in all of ongoing creation. This is the creativity that God wills to share with us; this is to found our connection to the Divine. As we practice agape Love, the injunction of Jesus to love our enemies becomes possible; to tolerate and Love those who annoy us, and to find something we value in every person we meet.
What the Holy Spirit Does
When we are present and in tune to this creativity of the Holy Spirit flowing through time and across the universe, our souls expand and we come to stand in awe, acknowledging that this is part of us and we are part of it. The Divine Intimacy of God in us and we in God. The illusion of separateness and disintegration leads naturally to appropriation and manipulation which can only end in the loss of the peace we have been promised.
To recover this Love and this Peace within Our Beloved Church, it is necessary to rebuild on foundations of mutual respect and service towards all God’s people, loosening the bonds of exclusion and domination, freeing ourselves of the hierarchical, patriarchal bondage to the Empire of this world. Perhaps this is now only possible in the recreation of small Christian communities in which God’s Love for each one is manifested so as to become light and salt. I salute all those such as the Order of Franciscan Hermits and the Tau Community with the courage and conviction who have taken up this call to rebuild the church.