Is love all you need?Jesus' Sermon on the Plain The Sermon on the Plain was a sermon given by Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Luke in Luke 6 provides some advice for preventing heart-rot. ; it may be compared to the longer Sermon on the Mount. Some commentators believe they in fact refer to the same event.
IN THE RIGHT LIGHT, IN CERTAIN CLOTHES, ON A GOOD day, people tell me I look younger than I am. The now predominantly gray hair begins to blow my cover. Yet if behavior counts for anything, I suppose I am still immature enough to blend in Verb 1. blend in - blend or harmonize; "This flavor will blend with those in your dish"; "This sofa won't go with the chairs"
fit, go - be the right size or shape; fit correctly or as desired; "This piece won't fit into the puzzle" among the hoards of students wandering the university campus near my home. That is, until the music begins to play.
One good Beatles song and the jig jig, dance of English origin that is performed also in Ireland and Scotland. It is usually a lively dance, performed by one or more persons, with quick and irregular steps. When the jig was introduced to the United States, it was often danced in minstrel shows. is up. I reveal myself as a boomer boom·er
1. Informal A nuclear submarine armed with ballistic missiles.
2. Informal A baby boomer.
3. A transient worker, especially in bridge construction.
4. by the sheer enthusiasm with which I sing every last line and know the timing on every last wail Lennon and McCartney ever offered up. I remember their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. I remember Beatle haircuts. I remember when the band retreated to studio albums and then took their final bow and sued their way out of their contracts. All you need is love. Really. That and a good lawyer.
Ah, youth, when everything we knew about love came from love songs on the radio. It was a real letdown, in some ways, to learn the next lessons about love from life--like the difference between the emotion exploding in your heart and the limitations of the relationship you happen to be in, or the gentle distinctions between your boyfriend's desire and his commitment. Love--or romantic love at least--didn't live up to its reputation. Until you switch stations and vaguely realize that one out of every two love songs is about the guy or girl who does you wrong.
Happy Valentine's Day Valentine's Day: see Saint Valentine's Day.
Lovers' holiday celebrated on February 14, the feast day of St. Valentine, one of two 3rd-century Roman martyrs of the same name. St. , indeed.
Perhaps the lessons about love that follow later are the most clear-eyed and useful, when our definition of true love shifts from the romantic to the domestic. We learn, sometimes through reflection, and sometimes with a little help from therapy, that the mistakes our parents made with us probably didn't botch us up forever.
We discover, in fact, that even the things that drove us batty about our families were often grounded in their sincere attempt to love us. We start to appreciate that the most mind-bending exchanges between our parents and ourselves weren't about us after all--they were really about them! This realization is helped along by the advent of children of our own, or in my case, watching my siblings with their children. Nothing is more enlightening, or amusing, than observing the pathology of your original family from the safe distance of a new generation.
As we grow older, we uncover deeper dimensions of the meaning of love. Love of God, passion for our vocation, even the dearness of the earth we walk on begin to claim more of our attention and loyalty. Our love may become more selfless, more tolerant. We may even find it in our hearts to forgive some old injuries that seemed unforgivable. The more we practice love, the more it widens the window through which we see others and admits more light and air into our souls.
All you need is love? Maybe, if our understanding of love is big enough.
In the 1970s, we used to sing a song with the refrain, "And they'll know we are Christians by our love." The idea gives a solid shake to our assumptions: They won't know us as followers of Jesus by our church attendance, our piety, the ID card in our wallet, or the oft-repeated profession of our faith. The cross and rosary rosary [rose garden], prayer of Roman Catholics, in which beads are used as counters. The term, applied also to the beads, is extended to Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist prayers that use beads. have been appropriated by pop culture, and the Virgin on the lawn is making a comeback in New Age households. The only reliable sign that we are who we say we are is in how well we love. Kind of raises the bar a little bit, doesn't it?
THAT'S MORE OR LESS THE POINT OF JESUS' SERMON ON THE Plain (better known as the Sermon on the Mount Sermon on the Mount
Biblical collection of religious teachings and ethical sayings attributed to Jesus, as reported in the Gospel of St. Matthew. The sermon was addressed to disciples and a large crowd of listeners to guide them in a life of discipline based on a new law of in Matthew's gospel). Luke places the scene on a stretch of level ground, as if to underscore the message that all are on equal footing in God's eyes. The poor, brought low by the world's injustice, are lifted up in the reign of God to come. The rich, exalted in their own esteem, are setting themselves up for a disastrous fall. The love of God doesn't play favorites--an invitation for us to do the same. If we are withholding justice from the poor, food from the hungry, comfort from the sorrowing, and acceptance from the excluded, we are putting the brakes on our love. And a Christian life without love is completely stalled.
We are invited to do the math here. God is love, John the Evangelist tells us. Without love, we are nothing, Saint Paul Saint Paul, city (1990 pop. 272,235), state capital and seat of Ramsey co., E Minn., on bluffs along the Mississippi River, contiguous with Minneapolis, forming the Twin Cities metropolitan area; inc. 1854. assures us. And Jesus says, the greatest commandment com·mand·ment
1. A command; an edict.
2. Bible One of the Ten Commandments.
a divine command, esp. is to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. I may have trouble balancing my checkbook, but it seems to me this all adds up to a mandate to take good care of our hearts. Part of the care and feeding of any living thing is to make sure it gets nourished, groomed, and has enough room to grow. If this is true for a houseplant houseplant
Plant adapted for growing indoors, commonly a member of a species that flourishes naturally only in warm climates. Two factors contribute to the success of the huge number of species grown as houseplants: they must be easy to care for, and they must be able to , how much more is it true for the human heart?
In Luke 6, Jesus dispenses all kinds of advice for people who are learning how to care for their hearts. Don't exclude anyone from the circle of your love--not by class, circumstance, or need. Love even those who have given you cause to hate them, otherwise known as your enemies.
This is the point at which the hands go up and someone says in all innocence, "But if you can't hate your enemies, who can you hate?" Good question. It pretty much hits the nail on the head. Any restrictions we place on love suffocate suf·fo·cate
1. To impair the respiration of; asphyxiate.
2. To suffer from lack of oxygen; to be unable to breathe.
suf our heart's capacity to grow toward the source of all love. Refusing to love a certain group of people, or a personal enemy, is crippling to us as the sons and daughters of Love itself.
We don't have to go far for an example of how this works. Think of the one person who drives you crazy at the moment, or someone who has hurt you, or a group in society whose groupthink group·think
The act or practice of reasoning or decision-making by a group, especially when characterized by uncritical acceptance or conformity to prevailing points of view.
Noun 1. is untouchable untouchable
Former classification of various low-status persons and those outside the Hindu caste system in Indian society. The term Dalit is now used for such people (in preference to Mohandas K. to you. Immediately our hearts fill with indignation, self-righteousness, defensiveness, maybe even rage. When our hearts are beset with these strong powers, how much room is left over for sympathy, charity, tenderness, compassion? We are commanded to love our enemies, not as a pious exercise but because we cannot afford the alternative. Our hearts are so limited, we can't spare the room for anything but love.
The most vexing situation, I find, is when I meet someone at the sign of peace at Mass who has offended me. Turning around to find the ex-fiance, the malicious gossiper, or the perpetually combative coworker co·work·er or co-work·er
One who works with another; a fellow worker. with hand extended can be very challenging. But I remind myself that it's Christ's peace I am offering, not my own, and I am in no position to withhold that from anyone. It is amazing a·maze
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.
2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.
v.intr. how often being a conduit for that peace brings the roiling in my own heart to a standstill.
Obviously, if this is a scenario we prefer to avoid, it's best to make peace before we come to the altar, just like the Good Book says. Anywhere we encounter a person called enemy, we can offer them the peace of Christ on the spot, in these or other words. Once I found myself at a crossroads with an old friend. We had known each other for years, enjoyed each other's company and conversation over many a delightful evening. But in time we reached an impasse in our values that seemed immutable IMMUTABLE. What cannot be removed, what is unchangeable. The laws of God being perfect, are immutable, but no human law can be so considered. . We exchanged difficult words that were hard to go beyond. I saw anguish in her eyes, but also the resolve to go her own way. The time when we could be friends was clearly over.
For a moment, it seemed we would part in anger. What an epitaph epitaph, strictly, an inscription on a tomb; by extension, a statement, usually in verse, commemorating the dead. The earliest such inscriptions are those found on Egyptian sarcophagi. on a friendship! But then she pressed my hand and said, almost ferociously: "I wish you well." And I knew that she did, beyond all the differences that stood between us. Our friendship ended in benediction benediction [Lat.,=blessing], solemn blessing usually administered in the name of God by a priest or a minister. The temple worship at Jerusalem had fixed forms of benedictions, and Christians have always given them an important place in ceremony, especially at the , not bitterness.
EACH TREE IS KNOWN BY ITS FRUIT, JESUS TAUGHT THAT day on the plain. If a heart is full of goodness, good will come from it. A rotten heart produces rotten fruit. If the fruit of our lives is manufactured from this tiny factory of the heart, the urgency to take great care of our hearts knows no bounds. Heart-rot, such as the unwillingness to let go of past wrongs, taints our ability to love. We can either nurture the story of the great injustices done to us or the story of God's great mercy--one or the other, but we have to choose. We can groom our hearts for cynicism or hope, but never both at once.
We can cut away the clutter that keeps our hearts small--all the bramble bramble, name for plants of the genus Rubus [Lat.,=red, for the color of the juice]. This complex genus of the family Rosaceae (rose family), with representatives in many parts of the world, includes the blackberries, raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, of possessing things and people for our own purposes--or we can hem in hem in
to surround and prevent from moving
Verb 1. hem in - surround in a restrictive manner; "The building was hemmed in by flowers" our love by crowding it all around with what surely will not last. What happens to our hearts is no accident and is too important to leave to chance.
One thing seems universally true: Unhappy people are those whose ability to love is in bad repair. We call them brokenhearted bro·ken·heart·ed
overwhelmed by grief or disappointment
Adj. 1. . When our capacity to give or receive love is broken, our lives shrivel on the vine. Our labor seems pointless, our relationships fruitless. The isolation of lovelessness is acutely painful. At times the professionals have to be called in to assist us in rebuilding the bridges to love. It may take weeks of spiritual direction, months of counseling, a lifetime of 12-step meetings, a long weekend at a directed retreat, or a rich hour with a good confessor CONFESSOR, evid. A priest of some Christian sect, who receives an account of the sins of his people, and undertakes to give them absolution of their sins.
2. . It may mean visiting the grave site of an old enemy and saying, "I wish you well." Or asking forgiveness directly from the person who lives in your house. But whatever it takes, what is the alternative? What else are we going to do with the rest of our lives?
All we need is love. And we do need it, fundamentally, as those destined des·tine
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.
2. for the embrace of love in a world without end. In the month when our whole society is papered over with red hearts, we might open our own hearts and see what's inside.
ALICE CAMILLE, author of God's Word Is Alive! and the scripture series "Exploring the Sunday Readings," both available through Twenty-Third Publications.