The readings for the fourth week of Lent remind us of how much God is committed to His covenants, how much He loves us, and what He will do to demonstrate that love to us. What does it mean to say God loves us, though? To understand what the Bible means by God’s love we must bear in mind that whereas the Greek language, (the language of the Bible from about 300 BCE), has three different words for three different types of love, English has only one. In Greek we have (1) eros meaning romantic love (like the love between a man and a woman that leads to marriage), (2) philia meaning fellowship love (like the love for basketball which brings fans together), and (3) agape or sacrificial love (like the love that makes a mother risk her own life for her yet unborn child).
In romantic love we long to receive, in fellowship love we long to give and take, in sacrificial love we long to give. This agape love is the love we see in today’s first two readings. This week we are not reminded of a new covenant God entered with His people. Instead, we see how he honored previous covenants, even when His people did not. Time and again, the Israelites turned from God. He continued to show His love, though, – sending His prophets to remind His people of their part of the covenants, the promises, God made with them, but to no avail.
“The people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple… “ 2 Chr 14.
“Early and often did the Lord send His messengers to them, for He had compassion on His people and His dwelling place…” 2 Chr 15.
But God loves us with agape or sacrificial love. That is one big difference between God and us: God gives and forgives, we get and forget. Giving is a sign of agape. This is the kind of love God has for us. He sent His prophets “early and often” to call His people back to His covenant love. They refused and were sent into exile, then the Lord draws them out to return and rebuild (2 Chr 36). “Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!” we respond with Psalm 137, along with the exiles in Babylon.
The scripture readings remind us that God has been trying for thousands of years to get our attention. Through messengers, miracles, healings, and proclamations, God has been trying to convince us that the love that is offered us is eternal, sufficient and a gift. Do our Lenten actions reflect that? Do our attitudes reflect what God has been trying to convince us of? Has God gotten our attention yet?
Today we are invited to say yes to God’s love. It is sometimes hard to believe that God loves each of us, but He does because God loves unconditionally; no ifs, ands, or buts. Once we realize this, then we can love God back and enter into a love relationship with God. Then we shall learn to share God’s love with those around us. Then we shall learn to give to God and to one another. We will be living the covenant, living the promises God has made with His people.
Happy Birthday, Fr. Socorro!
You are a blessing to all of us at St. Valentine Parish! May our Lord continue to bless you.