May 8, 2019

            “We have a divine-human birthright though few of us put it to use.  We quickly identify with the physical, psychological, and social dimensions of ourselves. But we often forget the spiritual dimension that is directly connected to the Divine Source---the God of love.” 

                                                                       ~ John Shea, theologian and Scripture scholar

This spiritual divine-human birthright is given to us and we give it away to others.  It is not for a specialized few, nor does it damage our human nature.  It does not demand a lifestyle that is abnormal or unusual.  It is revealed at home, at work, or in any location.  We can discover it through our natural human relationships, through the people we know, and through the friends we see.  It is the love of human lovers, of husband and wife, of parent and child, of friend and friend.  It is given to us and we take it into our own hands and then give it away.  It is through this divine avenue that Jesus sends his love to the ends of the earth.

 When we become attuned to God’s presence, and if we remain receptive to his continual overtures, our lives are transformed by that exchange.  We see God’s many and varied gifts just waiting for us to discover.  This awareness doesn’t come easily nor without effort and sacrifice.  What we discover in our continual love-experiences is that our heightened awareness pushes us to respond to the world around us.  We become aware of divine whisperings as we become more aware of the expressions of love awaiting us.

Searching for that love requires that we respond to the same question that Jesus asked Peter in today’s Gospel:  “Do you love me?”  As theologian Henri Nouwen has noted, Look at Jesus.  The world rejected him; he was crucified and then dismissed.  His love was rejected by a world that preferred power, efficiency, order and control…not love.  But here he was appearing to his own, who had eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand.  Since Jesus spent his life communicating unconditional love, he asked the only possible question, “Do you love me?”

 Spiritual writer Alice Camille asks this thought provoking “what if?” question:  “What if we loved instead of insisting on our rights, on what’s due us in matters of fairness?  What if we focused our attention on the mandate to love and didn’t fixate on the response of others around us?  What if we expressed our love in service to others, and our own fidelity to that call became the only moral code that concerned us?  If love became our starting point, we might end up in quite a surprising place.”

 Jesus is totally interested in love.  His question to Peter is his question to us: Do you love me?  That is a challenging question because love requires sacrifice.  With Easter fresh on our minds, we ask if the grace of Easter has molded us.  Have we allowed it to make us more responsive to loving overtures to the poor, the unwanted, the feared and mistrusted?  Have we become a vital force of faith that makes a difference in the lives of others?  May this Easter season allow us to respond to these questions so that our actions reflect our faith?  Jesus lives!  Amen, by what we say.  Amen, by what we do.                                   

                                                                                                                                                                            ~ Deacon Wilson Shierk




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