My friend, Joyce, has sent me this photo of two companionable swans, making gentle progress in the canal waters. They are contendedly together as love flows between them. The Caption from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is well known but perhaps less pondered because of that.
Joyce says that :
In these dark times, these words of love bring light and hope.
That light and hope comes to us through God.
During Lent we Christians are invited by God to understand more deeply that the Victory of Christ on the cross is really life-changing and that this change comes about not because of something we do but of realizing that God has done, and goes on doing, something so powerful in our lives through Christ on the Cross.
He has loved us totally and completely and through that Love he has drawn us into himself so that, as Paul tells the Galatians (2:20)
It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.
In order to die to self and live for, and in, Christ we are, says Jesus, to take up our Cross and follow him.
He is not asking for heroics. He is not asking us to search for some impossible burden to carry, some suffering to undergo.
He is asking us to commit ourselves to carry the sign of God’s love in our lives. It is the power of that love to transform that makes the real difference
For that to happen, the Love of Christ must rule our hearts, our lives – come what may.
Many years ago, a young Russian priest was imprisoned at the beginning of the Russian Revolution.
Years later he was released from prison. He was a broken man.
His friends asked him, “What is left of you?”
“Nothing” he replied, “nothing is left. They have burnt out everything. Only love remains.”
That priest had discovered the one thing that changes every human situation and disarms every human conflict – sacrificial love.
Only Love remains – that is what is necessary for Christ to change the world – and he does it through us. When we abide in God’s love, totally, then, as we walk around the area where we live, it will become a changed and different place. Our approach to others will be different, generous, kind and joyful.
The darkness of our present situation in the world can easily lead to despair and a sense of futility but we are called to be, increasingly, signs of God’s amazing, long suffering and transforming love. We are called, in fact, to carry that love into all the world’s dark places and into hearts that have turned away from love.
On the Cross the victory of Jesus was the triumph of love over all that is not love. It was a cosmic battle to proclaim God’s power over demonic and destructive forces which threaten to swamp the world with evil, hatred, self absorbtion and oppression.
Against this darkness and evil we are to love and go on loving for, as the great mystic, St John of the Cross, put it so powerfully:
“Where there is no love, pour love in, and you will draw love out.”
Cartoon by Charlie Mackesy who speaks profoundly through humour
Thank you Joyce for your inspirational photo & text