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Love – A Reflection

January 30, 2020

Our friend Christine Sine (Her Blog – GodSpace Light) took this picture of me and Denise during a short trip into the Rocky Mountain National Park earlier this month. Bundled up against the snow and biting wind we took a short walk before heading back to the warm car!

When I look at this picture I see love. The love of God who brought us together ten years ago… the love of God which was a palpable presence at our wedding nearly seven years ago… the love which surrounds us, comforts us, sustains us…

Love is one of those precious gifts that we are called to cherish and nurture. As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:13, And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

You cannot have faith or hope without love. Faith finds its root in God’s love for us and for all creation. Hope is found in the love of God made manifest in so many ways. Love is the anchor, the grounding, the foundation of life. As I said in an earlier blog post, you cannot have Social Justice or Peacemaking without love.

Thomas Merton wrote the following in his book New Seeds of Contemplation (which is also a reading in the collection, A Book of Hours):

To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name. If, therefore, I do anything or think anything or say anything or know anything that is not purely for the love of God, it cannot give me peace, or rest, or fulfillment, or joy. To find love I must enter into the sanctuary where it is hidden, which is the mystery of God.

This ties in so well with a portion of a letter that Merton wrote to Dorothy Day. First let me introduce you to Dorothy Day. She was a co-founder of The Catholic Worker Movement in New York City in 1933. In his address to the US Houses of Congress in 2015, Pope Francis lifted her up (along with Merton, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and Abraham Lincoln) as a model of what a true citizen of this nation should be. Pope Francis said of Dorothy Day: “Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.”

In his letter to Dorothy Day, Merton offered these words:

“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.”

The challenge for me today in this increasingly polarized nation and world is to love. There is so much hatred based upon ignorance in this country. We demonize the “enemy” so that it is “easier” to hate. Yet if we would only take the time to know others as individuals, as children of God, we can begin the process of dissolving hatred and breaking down barriers.

Warfare of all sorts is a result of the demonization of the other as I said above. If the root of war is fear as Merton said in New Seeds of Contemplation then the only way to peace must be love. Love of God and love of neighbor comes to mind (Mark 12:30-31) as the sort of foundation that must be at the heart of peacemaking.

These are thoughts that continue to inspire and challenge me. I hope that they will do the same for you, dear reader. As Dr. King said: I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. May that be our challenge and our goal each and every day.

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