Where do we learn about love?
A few years ago, when I was working as a hospital chaplain, I had a very powerful encounter, which made me think about this question. A patient has asked to see someone from pastoral care, so I went down to him. This poor man was consumed with anger. Anger with his family, his ex- wives, his brothers and sisters, people he’d worked with. For well over an hour I just stood there while he poured out his anger. I didn’t say much, it was as if he just needed another person there to hear him. Frankly, I felt like I was holding a bucket, into which he vomited all the bitterness he had in his heart.
That night I rang my brother, to thank him for the fact that our family has never broken down like that poor patients had! I was taught to love in my family.
I hope and pray that all of us here have an experience of love in our families that we can hold and treasure. Of course there are no perfect families but if we can look at our families, our friends too, and see the light of love, we are blessed, even if there are shaded places there as well.
Our belief as Christians is that God is love. Now we don’t mean this in the sense that we might say my car is red, or that house is in Prahran, or even my child is beautiful! Colour, location, good looks are all qualities that an object or person may have, but they would still be identifiable as a car if it was blue, or a house if it was in St Kilda, or a child if they were plain.
However we know that when we say God is love, we mean that God cannot not love, that when we think of, and hopefully experience, God as being compassionate and merciful, as offering grace and inviting us into fellowship, as today’s readings tell us, that these are all just ways of God being what God is - love.
Our Christian faith is that God is Father, Son and Spirit. That the essence of God is in loving relationship, and that we are invited to participate in, be part of that love. That love is one that gives, gives totally to us so that we can also give love to God and to each other.
In our lives we may meet people like that hospital patient I spoke about, people where, for whatever reason, their relationships have been twisted, and they are bitter. Our vocation as Christians, as people who have experienced the love of God and of our brothers and sisters , is to invite others to in some way participate in the generous love that God has offered us, and that we experience in our lives.