Saturday, February 14, 2009

What is True Love?

No other image brings to the surface the idea of love more than the that look when a mother gazes into her infant's eyes. There are three different celebrations when we place love on the centerpiece of our human lives. First, at the birth of a child. Being a father of four and present when they entered the world, there is no more exciting a time, sandwiched between anxiety, exhaustion, exhilaration, and joy. There is no other time that my wife looked more beautiful (she may disagree), then when she held our child in her arms for the first time. The joy extends to family members when they get that initial opportunity, to see, touch and hold the new born child. Moving to the next wonderful display of love; a wedding. A wedding is a time filled will all the range of emotions, from anxiety to exhilaration. A time of one of the most important decisions of a young person's life. We showcase the bride and the groom and share with them everything that holds meaning for that important day. We celebrate with all the trappings to make the day most memorable. Family and friends see the love of two who decided to become one. They ride off to their honeymoon and their life together. As I have gotten older weddings make me reflect on the memory our own wedding and how much I love my wife. Promises fulfilled through the passage of time. The treasure of that day is an even greater treasure today. The final time that love is on display is a funeral. Oh, for sure there is much lamentation over the loss of a loved one, but there are also the reflections on the deceased's life. We share the memories, usually the fond memories about those precious moments, the past times together and how much we loved, and now will miss them. Family and friends share in the thought that they (the deceased) are now in eternal bliss, the promise of our hope, our salvation. Many times a funeral is the only place where large extended families separated by time and miles get together. Sort of an unexpected family reunion. I don't think it is by accident that God uses those events to display his love for us. No one who fully understands what takes place on Christmas can ever erase that image of the infant in swaddling clothing, being held in the arms of the young mother Mary. It is the beginning of the greatest love story that ever happened. Fast forward to the Wedding at Cana, Mary wants to help the young couple so that their special day is not ruined. Jesus begins his ministry of love on that day changing water to wine. It is not by accident that Jesus frequently spoke of brides and bridegrooms in his parables, and the Church is the bride of Christ. Then there is Jesus hanging on that cross. One could only imagine the tears and the wailing of those present. The loss of their Beloved, the gathering of all who knew Him, (except for most of his disciples who were in hiding), the supposed end. There was no funeral for Christ, it was replaced with the greatest out pouring of love possible, the love of God, true love.

I heard this song last night at the wedding. I cried just hearing it as we walked to receive the Eucharist.

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