May 13, 2012


Love one another as I have loved you. – John 15: 12

   A case can be made that human beings are naturally religious. This is not the same as belonging to a religion or being thoroughly convinced of a personal god. It means that an examined life discovers an intuitive sense that there is a higher order of things, & that human well-being depends on people aligning themselves with that order. To be separated from that order is to be lost; to positively participate in that order is to be found.

   For Christians, this higher order is a proactive love that is embodied & revealed in Jesus. We do not have to search for it as if it were not searching for us. Also its rules are simple: we must learn to live in the way this proactive love lives. The problem for us is learning to believe in this love & then accepting it. This is eternal life: the endless giving & receiving of love.

   But there are forces that block our ability to appreciate this. We remember & replay within ourselves events that have made an impact. These events come together to tell us the story of who we are. However, often memorable events are times when we have been shocked & humiliated, when our shortcomings & mistakes have become evident to us with such force they cannot be expelled. So the story we learn to tell ourselves is a skewed version of who we are. Such negative stories always promote themselves as the real picture, the unvarnished truth before any “spin” we might put on it.

   There is a name for this: toxic shame. In the depths of our subconscious, beyond the reach of reason, we have become convinced that we are no good & never will be any good, which has a bad habit of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. We suspect also that we are unloved & even unlovable. The only thing that can disabuse us of this delusion is to encounter genuine love. If we are lucky, it may come in the form of another human being. Some are not so lucky. Indifferent or abusive parents can do a great deal of damage in this regard. Such an experience leaves scars that we carry with us the rest of our lives.

   When this becomes a barrier to believing in & accepting God’s love, there IS something we can do. First, chose one person who has loved you, treated you like treasure, & see in that person a revelation of the universal love of God. Do not treat all people & events equally. Some people are sacramental carriers of divine love. Their human ability to love is highly developed, & it has tapped into a divine grounding that communicates more than just the care of one individual. We need to meditate on the words & presence of such people. They are the voice in the wilderness that not only prepares for the love of the Lord but also provides it.

   Second, do not think Jesus is so special that He is an exemption. Some people sense love at the center of life & existence in a direct way. They know the “Father in heaven” even when the father on earth is missing or dismissive. Just hearing of the Father in heaven may ignite the fire of love & bring people into full participation in the love chain. It does not matter how we enter into the love chain of loving others even as He has loved us. It only matters that we enter into it.  Remember that we did not first choose the Lord. It was He who chose us.  AMEN!