Sixth Sunday of Easter
"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (Jn. 15:9-17)
LOVE: Jesus Commanded Me To Do It
Once I had a mug inscribed with Jesus’ words, “Love one another as I love you.” I chose it with great care on a vacation day at Rehoboth Beach. Decorated with images of assorted turtles, it was intended to encourage a commitment to center myself spiritually in daily prayer and Scripture. Months later, I left the favored mug in a meeting room at my job. Returning hours later, it was gone... another petty loss one never forgets.
Truthfully, I cannot blame the roller coaster quality of my adult prayer life on losing a favored mug. Material objects (sacramentals) e.g., inspirational plaques, prayer cards, statues and rosaries gently nudge us to hang out with our Creator, Redeemer and Advocate. Holy or spiritual aids should not have more force than the Lord’s words. Yet in practice, do we equalize sacramentals and God’s commands? That is, do we ignore both?
Does your prayer life swing from quick prayerful expressions to begging relief from physical pain, financial emergency or emotional turmoil? I believe a tepid response to Jesus’ command is less a matter of laziness and more about agency and fear.
Agency (or free will) is perhaps the highest value in U.S. society. Recent examples include refusing to wear masks during the pandemic, reported bad behavior of some airline passengers and horrific violence at the Capitol on January 6. Most of us will not go to such extremes to stake out our independence. However, like the turtle that enters and exits its shell at whim, many Christians silently and defiantly fight small battles with God. They’ve made a habit of being contrary, of acting on feelings of the moment rather than following through on promises made.
Fear of the unknown is another obstruction to the unimaginable delights of an intimate relationship with the One who knows and loves us best. What does God know that I’d prefer not to confront? What must I abandon or take up? There is no escape hatch. I have to leave my cozy cocoon. I must trust God. And, it’s not only about us. Jesus said, “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last.” We were created for a purpose - to lead, accompany and follow others to our eternal destiny. Once while praying I saw an image of Jesus sweeping aside stars in the sky to make way for those on that journeying. It was awesome and a little scary.
Take a moment to recall your better prayer seasons. What helps you open your heart to God with joyful anticipation? For me, it’s been music, some art and pure need. Won’t serious health, money and relationship challenges take you there? I tune Spotify to contemporary gospel and proceed from there. The next thing I know, lyrics and tunes burrow into my heart and take me to a cherished space with my loving and always on-time Mother/Father God. I too need to tarry there more.
Authored by: Donna Grimes, a dear friend of Eat the Scroll Ministry