22 May 2015
It’s easy for us to hear the word “love” just thrown around. You know, things like: “I love the Packers;” or “I love the way so-and-so talks;” or “Love is love, it doesn’t matter who loves who.” In the gospel, we hear the word “love” quite a bit, too.
“Yes, Lord, you know I love you,” says Peter. Again and again, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” But this isn’t any ordinary love Jesus and Peter are talking about. This is the kind of love that means you’ll “stretch out your hands, and someone else will . . . lead you where you do not want to go.” It’s not a “feel-good” love. It’s not caught up in politics and political correctness. It’s not thrown about casually.
It’s a love that means I’m yours—body, mind, soul. It’s a love that means everything I have is yours, and everything that’s yours you share with me. It means I’ll go anywhere you go, even—as happened with St. Paul—into the trials and hardships of persecuted for the faith. The love of God Peter and all of us commit ourselves to is certainly something to enjoy. It should bring us into a profound sense of . . . God’s enduring presence. But, above all, this love is something to embrace, regardless of what happens because of it.
In just a couple days now, we’ll be celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of divine Love. And, while it certainly is a day to celebrate, it’s also a day to recall what this gift of the Holy Spirit means. Yes, it’s the “birthday of the Church.” But it’s the birth of something new within each of us. And that something new is a deeper and more serious commitment to the implications of what it means to have God’s Holy Spirit of Love within us.
The coming celebration of Pentecost is a chance to celebrate again the lavish gift of his love that God pours out on us. But it’s also a time to remember our response to that Holy Spirit—a response which is our own lavish gift of ourselves to the Will of God. Jesus asked Peter and he asks us: “Do you love me?” “Well, yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
If that be the case—that we accept God’s love, that we ask the Holy Spirit to “come,” enter our minds and bodies and souls—if that be the case, then we should be prepared to follow the Will of God wherever he leads us; not as a mindless slave, but as an intentional and true friend of our Lord.
It’s easy for the word “love” to be thrown around today. But for us Christians, love defines who we are: self-giving, joyful, committed, faithful in both good times and in bad. And so, we take “love” seriously. And in the depth of real love, we find true love and joy.