Love is a strange word. It is full of power, mystery, and deception. Love holds. Love nurtures. Love is wonderful when it is present. Love is horrible, tragic when it is not present.
I googled “Love” when writing this reflection. I discovered that “Love” deliver over 2,360,000,000 results. The first result was a definition for love on Wikipedia. “As an abstract concept, love usually refers to a deep, ineffable feeling of tenderly caring for another person. Even this limited conception of love, however, encompasses a wealth of different feelings, from the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love to the nonsexual emotional closeness of familial and platonic love to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.”
Love is personal, impersonal, romantic, non-romantic, sexual, non-sexual, and everything in between. Love is also confusing to me. One of my favorite examples of love is found in Mark 2:1-12. In it best light these verses are referred to as “Jesus heals a Paralytic.”
There is this person that is paralyzed that needs healing. There is one that can heal. This is also a large crowd demanding healing from the one that can heal all. Yet, there is difficulty in accessing this healing on the part of the person that is paralyzed.
The person that is paralyzed has four friends that loved the person that is paralyzed so much that when they arrived at a crowd and have limited access to healing, they went up to the roof and removed the roof. They then lowered the person that is paralyzed down to the one that can heal.
The healing is delivered, by the one who can heal, due to the love [faith] of the others to the person that was paralyzed. It was not the love of the person in need that delivered healing it was the love of the others for the person in need that brought healing.
Love healed the paralytic. A love that was brought forth in an act of compassion, an act of selfless care towards another. It is this kind of love that I pray falls in my heart. A love void of selfish intent. A love full of the other. A love that inhabits the dark edge of discomfort in my life as I serve Christ. Thomas Merton speaks to this kind of love when he says, “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
Imagine a world filled with a love that is dynamic enough to let others be perfectly themselves. In this world love heals all regardless of their actions. Rather healing arrives because they are loved for whose they are and not what they are. This is the love that healed the person that was paralytic. This is the kind of love that re-members us all to the one that can heal, for in the end love is what mysteriously binds us all to grace.