Priest shows the way to ‘becoming love’
BECOME LOVE: Gradual Growth and Transformation from John to Francis, by Larry Kaufmann CSsR. Redemptorist Pastoral Publications. 2019. 180pp
Reviewed by Tally Palmer
I am writing at my study window. A cool, clear day with a light wind. Leaves and shifting light, a few torn white clouds. This morning, reading Fr Larry Kaufmann’s book Become Love, I was moved to tears and a deep feeling of gratitude.
Here is a book that speaks to the heart of our struggle to love; a book that holds our striving and failures to love well, gently and powerfully.
Yes, we fail. Yes, the pain of failure can heal. Yes, we can love better, if not perfectly.
Love is not a sentimental business — it is the tough road of shedding light on ourselves, to call out the best possible ways we can behave towards others.
The hardest times emerge where we love deeply. In relationship with our beloveds we suffer and celebrate most deeply.
In Become Love, Fr Kaufmann uses Jesus’ narrative pedagogy: the art of telling stories. He takes biblical figures we know well and re-tells us their stories, as recounted in John’s Gospel.
Fr Kaufmann focuses on how these disciples came to love — and became more whole.
Each of them took the long way round. The path less travelled is seldom straight. Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene, Thomas the Twin, Peter and others — each close to, and sometimes far, from the Lord they loved.
Fr Kaufmann traces their bumbling collisions with moments of growth. Moments in which they suffer, sometimes dance with joy, and learn to love better, to be more whole.
He traces their journeys and their processes, the long time of conversion and transformation.
Though this, the author takes us by the hand, with our own recognition of a long fragmented journey to God, and links it to the teaching of Jesus in John’s Gospel, through the years of Church tradition, to Pope Francis.
He gives us “permission” to be who we are — people always groping towards, and sometimes dancing in, the light.
The late theologian Brian Gaybba, who gave Fr Kaufmann the title of this book, and Fr Kaufmann himself have been companions on my journey, shining light, love and care on my pathway.
Through Fr Kaufmann’s reflective teaching and stories, readers will recognise their own pathways to becoming love.
With heart, soul and mind, I recommend this book.
Prof Tally Palmer is the director of the Institute for Water Research at Rhodes University. Become Love can be ordered from Redemptorist Publications