The Density of Love II
Last week, on Trinity Sunday, I described the Love of God as extremely “dense.” Like the densest of the elements on the Periodic Table which disallow any admixture of any other substance, the density of the Love of God, admits nothing but the essence of Love Itself. The Crucifixion of God’s only Son, Jesus, demonstrates the density of God’s love. All thoughts about God to the contrary, whether from Scripture or any other source, of God’s desire for vengeance, punishment, retribution, or support of holy war or violence, are projections by human beings on God to suit their own ends. If we think God approves of violence in certain circumstances, then we can be violent too when we think situations warrant our violence!
The scripture readings for the Sunday are demonstrative of the density of God’s love we’re talking about. The story of the “three” visitors (Trinitarian sign?) to the home of Abraham and Sarah, announcing to this childless, very elderly couple that they would conceive and bear a son, bespeaks the loving plan of God. Evil and death have come into the world by human willfulness, but God does not give up on the world.
God sends his Son, Jesus, to be incarnate among us. Jesus is made the Scapegoat of all time: Let us get rid of this Jesus and we (human beings) can pursue our own “holy” ends and desires. Jesus is executed on the Cross, forgiving all those who put him there, showing the density of his Father’s love for his sinful children. As Paul explains in Romans
For while we were weak, Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
Jesus didn’t die to fulfill some retributive blood lust of his Father that would hold back God’s wrath from humankind. Jesus’ death proves God love for his children from the beginning and always, patiently waiting for them to return his love.
Jesus’ death on the Cross shows us the only response to the world’s violence is forgiveness. Being forgiven after we have done evil can break our hearts in such a way that we recognize our need for forgiveness. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. God’s saving, forgiving love, if we would receive it, is completely gratuitous, with no strings attached, except that we would pass on this forgiveness to others
Today’s Gospel expands upon these thoughts. The whole purpose for Jesus’ coming among us was to bring healing, peace, wholeness, and shalom. Unfortunately, the followers of Jesus, who are called Christians, have often forsaken God’s love and done violence to their enemies. This has been the case for a long, long time. We need to learn from Jesus who truly loved those who were putting him to death.
The Holy Spirit is trying to soften the hardness of our hearts and create in us shepherd’s hearts like Jesus had. The shepherd heart of Jesus was able to look at the threatening wolves in this world and see their “sheep-ness.” Like Francis of Assisi, who was able to win over the infamous Wolf of Gubbio, by changing the hearts of the angry townspeople to love for their feared enemy, we can, with the Spirit’s help, win over our neighbors to love of our enemies. We can do this, because we are baptized into God’s dense, inexplicable agape love for us and all our fellow human beings, sisters and brothers of the same Father. (emphasis added lr)
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English, Anglican Communion) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.