The season after The Epiphany of Our Lord is one in which we consider our own calling against the backdrop of God's call to those who have gone before us. God’s call is accompanied by gifts that will be needed in order to be who we are called to be and to do what we are called to do. The life of those who are called is to be lived out in the company of others who are also called. Sometimes, as we will see in Sunday's readings regarding Jeremiah, Jesus, and St. Paul, the call is to deliver a message. And, sometimes, that message is one that people would rather not hear.
You would think that a message of love would be one that everybody wants to hear, wouldn’t you? Think of how we like to exalt love. We like to talk about it and sing about it. Of all the things God might want us to tell others about and of all the things we might want to hear about, talk of love seems like the kind of message that ought to be universally welcomed.
However, as we can see from the examples of Jeremiah, Jesus, and St. Paul, you can get run out of town pretty fast for too much talk about love – Love Divine.
The witness of Jeremiah was to call forth the best from God’s people by reminding them of God’s covenant love. His message met with a great deal of rejection. The witness of Jesus and of St. Paul was the same. It is a love that pours itself out for the other, the beloved, without regard for a return on the investment. It feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, shelters the homeless, forgives the offender, and enables us to live with ourselves and others. It is willing to risk an entire relationship if that is what is necessary to tell the truth. And, the first step toward giving this sort of love, Love Divine, is to experience it for ourselves. To be brought face-to-face with the best and the worst that is in us in the presence of the Lover of our Souls.
We may miss the point because we are so self-absorbed. There is a reservoir of love already standing within us. Like the subject of a song about love that was popular a few years ago, we are “looking for love in all the wrong places.”
When we come to the time in our lives where we do see ourselves as we really are, a mixture of beauty and beast, our only salvation is in the realization that God, too, sees both sides of our nature and loves them both. God seeks the transformation of the lower, darker side and the exaltation and maturity of the other. God’s love for us is tough, authentic, just, and unquenchable!
The ongoing expression of God’s desire to love us is the Holy Eucharist. It is also the communion of those who are willing to be open to the giving and receiving of that love.
I'll see you in Church!
The Very Reverend Ronald D. Pogue
St. Andrew’s Cathedral