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Summer 2011

Acts of Compassion
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Summer 2011 - Department | St. Alban’s Minute

Love Conquers All

Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, abide in my love…. This is my commandment that you love one another.” (John 15:12-17)

In the Gospels, Jesus emphasizes how one shows love for God through loving others. From faith flows action. Or to put it more accurately, from love flows action. For Christians, the evidence that we follow Christ is not in our theological doctrines, or whether we go to church. The evidence that we follow Christ is seen in how we treat one another: “They will know we are Christian’s by our love...”

Jesus taught many things, but he taught about love more than anything else. And the love he describes is not the romantic love that so easily is discovered in our culture. What Jesus is describing is a love that goes much deeper. It is that love that binds people together in a very relational and spiritual way. It is a love that thinks of the other before the self. It is the love that is willing to lay down one’s life for a friend.

When Jesus says to love one another, the love he describes is a love that is rooted in concepts of genuine compassion, non self-centeredness, forgiveness. It is a love that surpasses human understanding.

The news of the killing of Osama bin Laden, along with pictures of people dancing and cheering, is something that still bears reflection. Whether the death came by way of an anonymous missile fired from 40,000 feet being flown by a pilot or if it came by intense face-to-face combat, the end result is the same. People die and death results at the hands of others. A human being is dead and I take no pleasure in that. We can debate whether bin Laden’s killing was necessary or unavoidable in the same way we could debate the use of nuclear weapons to end the war in the Pacific. The cycle of violence, destruction and death are sins of war.

Then there is love.

Lifting us out of this darkness of sadness and sin is a love that overcomes the notion of an eye for an eye and calls one to pray enemies and even turn the other cheek. The love that is being described is a love that goes beyond the kind of self-centered attitude that accompanies such a perspective.  It is a love that describes a radical re-orienting of our values such that we live not just for ourselves but for the sake of others.

Self-less giving. This is love is the heart of our One Team spirit. It is a love that goes beyond human understanding and its focus is on the deeper elements of human relationships, not just social acquaintances. Sure I have 258 Facebook friends, but how many am I deeply connected to?
It is the same love that moves us, regardless of our faith tradition, to respond when there is pain and suffering.

Jesus was talking about a lifestyle of love for one another because we need one another. It is that very same love that connects us on a human level to the events in earthquakes in Japan, and Aoteaora, to tornadoes in the American South, and flooding along the Mississippi river. It is the same love that moves us, regardless of our faith tradition, to respond when there is pain and suffering.

We say we are ʻOhana. Family. As a community we are called to be a family and I believe that God and God’s love is the transforming power within us. Love and action are interconnected, bound up together. From Love flows action. It was Love that moved Jesus to take on the role of slave and wash his disciples feet. It was Love that when on the cross, Jesus says “forgive them”. It was Love that defeated death on Easter morning and it is Love that binds us together and moves us to action. “Love one another as I have loved you.” says Jesus. When we reach out with a deep and abiding love we will want to show it, not because we have to, but because we want to.

The Rev. Daniel L. Leatherman

Comments from Readers

  1. D41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e
    Rachel Won on 7/30/2011 at 10:21am

    Thank you, Father Leatherman, for giving love the support it deserves. I don't see it often enough--true love in action--but it is a grace to know that it is well spoken for and occurs beyond my scope of vision and understanding.

    Take care, and go in peace.