God is Love (I John 4:8 & I John 4:16)

The profundity of this declaration and others like it in the Gospel according to John have been growing on me since my retreat in August. There the retreat master urged us to see God’s love as enfolding us and God so wanting to shower us in Love that all we need to do is accept it “and ask for more.” That is all we are asked to do.

God is love. God loves. Love needs nothing from us except to recognize that Love is God and that all we do in the “name” of love is done through the Divine. This is why when people are truly in love, they feel wonderful. It is what is “behind” the insights of I-Thou. It is what the striving to be open to the Divine is all about. For, as Richard Rohr points out, listening to another with full attention and openness is hearing and seeing the Divine within that person.

Richard Rohr puts it: “In Jesus, God gave us a human heart we could love.” (Dec 12). Jesus keeps “Love” from being abstract because he was one of us in history. Hence the quest for the historical Jesus. What did his Apostles and other people see in him? Was it a hint of the Divine or more than a hint?

“Love—God incarnate—always begins with particulars: this woman, this dog, this beetle, this Moses, this Virgin Mary, this Jesus of Nazareth. It is the individual and the concrete that opens the heart space to an I-Thou encounter. Without it, there is no true devotion or faith but only argumentative theories.” This makes sense of the Christ Jesus. It is the meaning of humans needing the incarnation, the sacramental in order to an avenue to the Divine, to the Holy.

From Howard Thurman: “I want to be more loving in my heart! It is often easy to have the idea in mind, the plan to be more loving. To see it with my mind and give assent to the thought of being loving—this is crystal clear.” Howard Thurman, Meditations on the Heart (Beacon Press: 1953, 1981), 168–169. 

Ann Henry, a composer in Portland who wrote a Mass called “Everyman,” had a piece in the song that was very simple but is very profound and that I pray:

“Thank you, our Father, for your love. Thank you, our Father, for you Love; help me to be worthy of your love. Awaken me to love; help me to Love. Thank you, Our Father, for your love”

I have adapted this song-prayer to:

Thank you, our Lover, for your love. Thank you, our Lover, for you Love; help me to be worthy of your love. Awaken me to love; help me to Love. Thank you, Our Lover, for your love”

Thank you, our Beloved, for your love. Thank you, our Beloved, for you Love; help me to be worthy of your love. Awaken me to love; help me to Love. Thank you, Our Beloved, for your love”

Thank you, our Love, for your love. Thank you, our Love, for you Love; help me to be worthy of your love. Awaken me to love; help me to Love. Thank you, Our Love, for your love”

This is a simple but deep prayer that’s easy to remember and say throughout the day. It follows the triune relational formula of Lover-Beloved-Love.

About Jerry

Catechumenate ministry is my passion. I have been involved in the catechumenate since 1980 in both the Roman Catholic and Episcopal branches of the Church. I am a "progressive," ecumenical Christian who is realistic enough to know that the Church has never been "One"; is often not "Holy"; strives to be "Catholic" and is "Apostolic" only when members respect the Tradition rather than the latest customs. I have been fortunate to be able to focus on various elements of philosophy, theology and Christian history during my studies. I am able to bring them all to bear in catechumenate ministry.
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1 Response to God is Love (I John 4:8 & I John 4:16)

  1. Yvonne says:

    Morning Jerry,

    Haven’t visited your blog in awhile. Very glad I did since most of my practice and studies these days is about urging my heart to soften and open. I was glad you shared one of the prayers you use. In that spirit, let me share with you one of mine. It is from the Persian poet Hafiz whose mystical poems are often loves songs from God to his beloved world. This one is actually testimonial and and I have bent it to my need.

    The Seed Cracked Open

    It used to be
    That when I would wake in the morning
    I could with confidence say
    “What am ‘I’ going to
    Do?”

    That was before the seed
    Cracked open.

    Now Hafiz is certain:

    There are two of us housed
    In this body,
    Doing the shopping together in the market and
    Tickling each other
    While fixing the evening’s food.

    Now when I awake
    All the internal instruments play the same music:

    “God, what love-mischief can ‘We” do
    For the world
    Today?”

    I love the joy in this poem. I think we often see being compassionate and loving as a task “Somebody has to do it”. Probably because loving the world, some people in particular, stirs the reaction, “Are you kidding me?!” And perhaps, because we believe we are not worthy of love, no matter how much we read and are told that God created us whole and perfect and that s/he loves us no matter how often we forget that and act out of fear and anger. This poem recognizes the delight in loving and its mischievous, humorous, annoyingly tender, counter-to-world nature. So, I will often hit the floor with

    I hear you calling, tickling the ribcage around my heart.

    Let’s get the floor mopped, the dog walked, buy some groceries,
    Tell each other some jokes
    And just stir some things up with joyful kindness and love.

    Y

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