April 9 & 16, 2017
Passion- and Easter- tides are a great time to conclude reflections on Love as the ethical norm. After all, it is the norm which moved the Father and the Son to undertake the salvation of the world, not by power or by trickery, but by simply taking the brokenness of that world into the healing wholeness of their communion of love. The crucified Jesus reveals to a single glance the broken heart of a God who goes unloved and the shattered beauty his image in humanity that will not love. That divine face looks out at us, even as Jesus lifts that human face to God.
But, as we know, the story does not end upon the cross. Love is not content to die for the beloved or even to die with the beloved (poor silly Romeo and Juliet!). The final act of God’s love for the world is the resurrection of his Son from the dead.
Too often when we start thinking about motivation and morality, we leave love aside because we forget that love alone has the power to give life. In the crucified and risen Christ, life is revealed as the reward of love, as well. Forgetting this, we all too often allow ourselves to think that morality has as its ultimate goal the realization of some utopian vision of human life on earth. But it is precisely fear of death that keeps interfering with people’s willingness to bring that utopia to pass. Besides, what good is a utopia if your last known address is a cemetery?
Only when death is no more will people have the courage to give and give and give at every and whatever cost to improve the lot of the neighbor near or far. But life, that must be nourished to endure, gets panicky and self-serving when it is too fed on for its own comfort.
This is why the believing Christian has so much to teach the unbelieving utopian. We can practice the only love that is sufficient for the dream because we can embrace the dream without fear of consequences to ourselves. But if our believing is soft or lazy we will want to have an earthly utopia and a post-earthly resurrection, too. And our faith will be less obvious than is our fear, the same fear that destroys all hope.
Even if the world does not recognize it, Easter is the feast of new life for all, of regeneration of every lost dream and failed hope and irreconcilable hurt. The world will not become Christian because we hold back in singing our Alleluias! Even so profound a cynic as Nietzsche knew that. But it will find the assurance of a better world because there are those who believe in the best.
Really and truly and ‘hoppily’ yours,