making space for others to be.
The act of giving birth to
creation was an act
of God’s love.
From its first millisecond to
its billions of years and
this evolving, expanding
universe is a testimony to
No abandoned child, this
generous offspring of divine love is also the
continuing focus of God’s love and engagement.
There would have been more
peace, less chaos, without its substance and movement,
and not least without
its evolution of self-willed beings with the capacity not only to share
love but also thwart it.
But love’s generosity takes
such risks to bring
creativity and life.
ancient stories attest to people’s response to God’s engagement in
stories of Jesus’ compassion and generosity are mere traces of God’s
incarnation, in him, in human reality,
creating and recreating
change, forgiveness and renewal.
We embrace a tradition which
instances of such renewal.
which enters our reality confronts our unreality and our pretences.
We learn to
hate its light, to hide our true selves which in fear and loneliness
and to deny the blatant
injustices and cries of need in our world
and in ourselves.
“Crucify!” is love’s reward.
Then love becomes hijacked to
describe our passion, our obsession, our devotion.
We deny, exclude,
discriminate, in love’s name, believing our love for God makes such
love; God, too, is hijacked to become a symbol not of generosity,
but of our
religious zeal to demand what we think people should be and do for
So biblical tradition is also
hijacked to be an instrument of restriction
Such conflicts were the
setting for Jesus’ counterarguments which
appealed to models of healing and family to plead for scriptures’
God’s confronting generosity,
which embraces and restores; a father running to
welcome back his son; a stranger stopping off to tend the abused.
So love has
its competitors who have co-opted its name and its named source.
its identity love may be dangerous, destructive.
Meaning to control and do its
source’s bidding it creates chaos. It learns to hate in such love’s
loving the Lord its God with all its soul and mind and strength becomes
first step to reversing creation’s generosity,
undoing its birthing,
back the child as it were in merging and submerging, leaving no space
The will to envelope or also
to be enveloped, to swallow or to be swallowed up,
in the name of love,
holds a fascination, often
overtly religious, a flirtation
with death, a security in not-being.
confronts the fear that to abandon controlling law might bring chaos.
of abuse at Corinth were surely hard evidence for some that his way
God’s ways and produced lawlessness.
As Jesus faced such
many of his fellow Jews, Paul did so with his fellow Christians.
The good news
was not God’s hands-off abandonment of creation to lawlessness,
panicked imposition of controls reinforced by rafts of religious
God’s engagement of all humanity in Christ in goodness and generosity,
to restore relationship,
and through it continue the
creative work of love in
Such oneness with God’s Spirit
naturally bears the fruit of love,
which when allowed to blossom
far exceeds what the law’s provisions sought to
So such love
generates love, reproducing itself,
even if the process must work
contaminations internal and inherited which threaten to subvert it,
needs focussed attention to reach its goal.
Paul must remind the
that love means thinking about the consequences,
integrating behaviour with
this new intent, letting love generate its own questions and its own
Love’s intent is sometimes
much clearer than its outcomes,
these are framed in the cultural norms and expectations of any time and
There is no escape from
grappling with the ambiguities which such contexts generate,
made all the more difficult
when they are not recognised for what they are.
This challenge remains. But
Paul has no doubt about love’s primacy.
hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love. And it needs
Without it, religion is a
distraction and potentially destructive.
wonder that in the gospel which most attempts to reflect on love and
life, the Gospel
according to John, love is the primary mode of God’s being.
Indeed, its later
echo, 1 John, twice declares that God is love.
John’s gospel gives us a
of love, especially between the Father
and the Son,
which inspired the later
doctrine, best expounded as a
communion of love.
This gospel’s author
simplifies faith to entering oneness
with God through Christ, and so finding life’s essentials:
water, bread, light,
and resurrection; all this as love, which then connects all – to God
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