It’s time for love. (It’s always time for love.) Love is the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, and everything in between. Love is the message, the messenger, the meaning of it all, because God is love.
We Brothers take the name of “The Society of Saint John the Evangelist,” because we find in the Fourth Gospel the inspiration for our own life and mission. Above all, we are inspired by this Gospel’s testimony that God is Love, its conviction that Jesus is the revelation and revealer of God, its insistence that the Christian community is to be a community of love, bearing witness to what they have seen and heard and experienced. We have come to know what that original community held to be true: The beginning of all love is God.
And God’s love is very revealing. Martin Buber writes, “You know always in your heart that you need God more than everything; but do you know too that God needs you?” Many of us might find this truth hard to accept. But it is true. God does not need us in order to be eternal, or infinite, or omniscient. But God created us and does need us, like an artist needs to create in order to be an artist. In creating, artists express their own nature: who they are, and what they are, and for what they give their life. And so with God. God needs us because love is of God’s very essence. And love does not exist unless it is given away.
God is love, and love can only be realized and expressed in relationship: the give-and-take of love. Julian of Norwich said there is in God “a desire, a longing, and a thirst from the beginning,” and this longing is for relationship. With you. God, if not loving you and if not loved by you, is somehow incomplete. Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” (John 15:9.) The God whom Jesus calls “Father” loves us – loves you – just as the Father loves Jesus. You are loved that much! You have been created by God with love, for love, to love. It’s of your essence. Love makes you real.
I wonder how you hear this. Do you nod or shrug or shake your head? Some of us—many of us—might discover some resistance within our own souls at the promise of God’s love. We think, ‘God doesn’t love me, couldn’t love me, can only partly love me, cannot completely love me.’ But in that assumption we are thinking only about ourselves. Think of God. You have probably known the best of times and worst of times, and sometimes the muddle in the middle. God is well apprised of the goings on of human beings. You do not have to change to know the love of God, but the love of God will change you, will make you real. St. Catherine of Siena wrote, “What is it you want to change? Your hair, your face, your body? Why? For God is in love with all those things and he might weep when they are gone.” God’s relationship with you is one-of-a-kind, beloved that you are. There’s no one like you. You make God’s day. This is God’s love on God’s terms. Nothing, nothing, nothing will ever separate you from the love of God. You need only say “yes” to that.
We read, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God . . . if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7) We are created to be in relationship: with God and with one another. Our attention and care to reordering our time has the goal of freeing us up to deepen and thrive in our relationships. Jesus shows us that to be human is to love: “Love one another” is his parting command to the community he drew around him. Beloved, let us love one another. Make time to love.