May 13. 2012 – Love One Another – Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER JOHN 15:9-17
Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
May 13, 2012
“All you need is love.” The Beatles sang this song in the late 1960s, and
people argue to this day about the meaning of the lyrics. The word
“love” is repeated nine times in this song’s first line. The lyrics continue:
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney suggest that many people can
accomplish the task which, you might imagine, that you alone can
accomplish. Perhaps you think yourself a great vocalist, and you
therefore imagine that only you can rightly carry off this fine aria.
Really, many singers are entirely capable with that song.
Ah, but you can learn to play the game; you can learn to love greatly.
The game of life is possible for anyone who loves.
There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known,
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown,
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
I recall meeting a woman from the United States who was living in a
dusty village in Guyana, South America, who belonged to a small
Protestant Church. She was compiling a dictionary of the language of
those native people residing in quite a limited area. She was trying to
know what the native folk already knew and readily spoke. Thus the
Beatles’ song, “There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.”
On the ferry traveling to Seattle, we can view the wonderful scene of
Mount Rainier gleaming in the Southern horizon. That sight can be
readily seen these clear days, for Mount Rainier is clearly shown. So the
Beatles’ had it right: “There’s nothing you can see that isn’t shown.” In
all our efforts, according to the song, in learning and in seeing, we best
achieve when we love.
Furthermore, you and I, according to this song, ought to love being just
where we are. Financially, emotionally, relationally, we should embrace
our current situation, and not curse our condition, not fight our fate.
Tomorrow may advance other avenues, but for the moment, we can love
our creaturely existence, not despair in doom. “All you need,” says the
song, “is love, love, love is all you need.” Such dreamy love brings on
an emotional high.
The religious meaning of love, of agape, differs from the Beatles’ song.
While that lyric does not name the object, the person to whom we attach
ourselves, our religious faith unites us in love with our Creator. God
chose Israel and required that nation to stick with Him; an unwavering
attachment must glue Israel to God.
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore,
you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all
your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words
which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak
of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind
them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your
forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your
gates (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
We learn of God’s boundless love. “For God so loved the world that he
gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not
perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). While the Beatles’ song
desires a loving nature, open simply to love everyone and everything—a
loving nature that has not yet met contrariness or meanness—we
religiously realize God loving us in our sin and willfulness.
Jesus praises love as a gift of God, a way of life. Yet Jesus uses the word
“love” to mean a discipline. “You are my friends if you do what I
command you” (John 15:14). Furthermore, “This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). By living
the commandments, we direct our love to God and to neighbor.
If the Beatles’ love is too dreamy for a cold-eyed person of experience,
still, we grow and develop in loving. A few days ago we celebrated at
Mass the sanctity of Damien, the leper of Molokai, a person who offers
us an example of a lover. Born in Belgium in the mid-nineteenth
century, Damien eventually volunteered to bring Christ to the leper
colony in Hawaii; his love of neighbor centered on his loving the leper
outcasts on Molokai. He arranged a government grant that brought new
houses and a new church, a school and an orphanage; and Damien
succeeded in getting the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, New York, to
help staff this colony. These nuns were lovers. Incidentally, they
regularly washed their hands. Damien failed that simple expedient.
God loves you and me unconditionally. God continually creates us, and
so God continually exercises His choosing us. Thus Aquinas speaks of
our “friendship with God” (Summa Theologiae: 220.127.116.11). “By God, you
were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor.
1:9). Love is considered the greatest of the theological virtues. Finally,
God is identified with love. “Love is from God; everyone who loves is
born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know
God, for God is love” (I John 4:7-8).
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. We expect mothers to love their
children with a love not conditioned by physical or mental ability. A
mother’s love is surpassing, and Isaiah asks if such a possibility exists.
“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of
her womb? (49:15).
On this Mother’s Day, we are mindful of God choosing even us to
cherish and to love. Amen.