An Expanding, Inclusive Love

by Liz Young

(Based on John 12:20-33)

Today we celebrate Passion Sunday, and I want to discuss with you the reading from John 12, which starts with some Greeks asking Philip if they can see Jesus. A writing that is a symbol that Jesus’s message is for all of us, Jew and Gentile alike. They asked to see Jesus, and he greeted them with the words, “Now is the hour, now the moment has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

[The words of the hymns today remind us of what He gave us and why we glorify Him, honouring peace, valuing and practising self-sacrificing Love, and sharing joy.]

The words “the hour has come” emphasize that in this particular moment God has intervened to bring justice to the world. The parable of the seed falling to the ground and dying has been interpreted that the seed can only be transformed into a plant if it dies, and changes its form. We can only be transformed if we follow the teachings of Jesus whole heartedly:  if we do, we grow to love Him. The states of receiving and giving Love change over our lifetimes. A mother nurtures a baby with love, only to be able to let them go; she has to let her child achieve independence, by making their own mistakes along the way. Making mistakes is sometimes the only way we learn. Think what you’ve learnt from your mistakes (when you’ve stopped blaming yourself for them), when you’ve accepted God’s forgiveness; and having cleared out emotional self-blame we can move to repentance and create plans for restitution.

The words “those who love their life, lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” have provoked much thought and discussion. I feel that we can only serve God if we are prepared to relinquish those things that give us immediate gratification and offer instead Love and caring to others.

Jesus then goes on to say, “Now my soul is troubled.” I think that He is confirming he’s human. He is fully aware that he is about to suffer a horrible death, and fearful about his ability to cope; and to continue to love the human race throughout His coming pain and suffering. His knowledge that He will experience despair and feeling that He has been forsaken, even temporarily, from God, confirm to us that He is able to empathize with us when we go through our minor sufferings, because we know that He has experienced pain to a far greater extent Himself.

Permit me to quote from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations (from The Center for Action and Contemplation, cac.org), from this past week, entitled An Expanding Love:

Sunday: Peter himself began to recognize that God works with all people of goodwill—not just people in his group. But he had to be pushed there. Little by little, God leads him to universal love.
Monday: To move beyond our small-minded uniformity, we have to extend ourselves outward, which our egos always find a threat, because it means giving up our separation, superiority, and control.
Tuesday: Love grounds us by creating focus, direction, motivation, even joy—and if we don’t find these things in love, we usually will try to find them in hate.
Wednesday: “The ability to love yourself is intimately related to your capacity to love others. The challenge is creating a life that allows you to fulfil both needs.” Bishop Michael Curry
Thursday: “God has made it clear: if you love me you will work for liberation with the oppressed and marginalized in your midst, and you will share your home and food with those who have none.” Stephanie Spellers
Friday: “Christian life is a commitment to love, to give birth to God in one’s own life and to become midwives of divinity in this evolving cosmos. We are to be ‘wholemakers’ of love in a world of change.” Ilia Delio

Today we appreciate that Jesus made a conscious decision to travel to Jerusalem, knowing what the future held. May we spend the last days of Lent appreciating Jesus’s knowledge of His future suffering, and ask for courage to share our faith with others; and be thankful for all He has given us.  Amen

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