Attached to love
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers. I wonder what images and feelings come to mind when you think about your mother? I wonder what role your mother played in shaping who you are and how you engage with the world today?
This morning’s readings from both John’s letter and gospel are all about love. As I said last week, love is a tricky thing. Love can mean so many different things, and often is simply a word to describe how I feel about something or someone. Our understanding of love is in many ways shaped by our experience of love in our early years. Our relationship with our primary caregivers, particularly our mothers, is what we use to understand God’s love. And for too many people this is very “me” focussed, always conditional on what is offered in return. God’s love is seen as conditional on my response, and too often our love is conditional on what I get in return.
The passage we are reading from Johns gospel is part of Jesus final all important speech. It is a pastoral speech to Jesus’ disciples for whom everything is about to change, and through them to John’s community undergoing intense persecution. It comes straight after Jesus has shocked his disciples and washed their feet, and just before he is arrested and lays down his life in the crucifixion, and takes it up again in the resurrection. This love is outward. God’s passionate love is poured out with no hope of reward. It is unconditional. It is in no way “me centred”. John is suggesting that rather than our experience of love from other people being our foundation for understanding love, it is Jesus who offers us the true image of God’s love. And it is life changing.
So what shapes our understanding of love? Our mothers? Our life experiences? Jesus’ love? How might we continue live into this hard love?