A matter of love

Palm Sunday – 2016

Luke 22: -23:

Marian Free

 

A matter of love

May God whose love for us knows no bounds, free us from all those things that prevent us from accepting that love. Amen.

Love is an extraordinary motivator. It can enable people to go to extraordinary lengths to make a difference for those whom they love. Parents of children with severe handicaps invest hours of their time and all their financial resources to not only ensure that their child has the best quality of life that is possible, but also to defy the medical staff who have advised them that the child has no future. Siblings of cancer sufferers cycle around Australia or complete other such feats to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for research. Husbands or wives refuse to turn off life support machines, believing that the one whom they love has a future.

The love and determination of a spouse means not only the difference between life and death, but also the difference between simply being alive and having some quality of life.  Only last week I read the account of a young woman Danielle. At just 23[1] Danielle had married the love of her life. Only months later her husband, Matt he seriously injured in a cycling accident. As well as numerous fractures, he had sustained a serious traumatic brain injury. A team of doctors advised Danielle to turn off his life support.

Danielle trusted the doctors and thought she would agree to end Matt’s life. After a sleepless night she thought: “Matt is my husband. If he stays in a coma, of if he needs looking after for the rest of his life, I will be the one taking care of him.” Instead of conceding that the doctor’s were right, Danielle knew if a flash that she could do it. She felt that God was telling her to take a chance, that this was her path in life. Danielle was not going to let Matt die. That was 2011. What followed was a battle to bring Matt out of the coma, battles with the medical staff who wanted to put him into a nursing home and twenty four hour care, once she got him to her mother’s home. Caring for Matt meant changing nappies, checking feeding tubes, giving sponge baths, administering up to 20 different medications, turning Matt every two hours and single handedly doing all the physical therapy that was required.

Danielle’s journey is a long way from over and Matt may never be the same, but he sings to Danielle and writes her poems and tells her every day that he loves her.

As is the case with Danielle, the cost of love is often enormous – emotionally, financially and in terms of the time that is involved. Yet the lover (parent, sibling, friend) thinks nothing of that, only of ensuring that their beloved is loved and cared for, has the best life that is possible in the circumstances and that they know that they have not been abandoned.

This Lent, it has seemed to me that the readings have focused on love – God’s boundless, unconditional love for all of humanity. We have seen that God reaches out for us in love, refusing to give up on us no matter how much we disappoint, frustrate and even enrage God.  God does not/cannot stop loving even when we blindly go our own way, when we put up barriers between ourselves and God’s love or when we behave in ways that are damaging to ourselves or to others. God’s love for us is a love that never gives up, no matter how broken or beyond repair we might be and it is a love that never counts the cost.

Today and throughout this week, we will witness God’s love played out in Jesus’ journey to the cross. We cannot know what was going through Jesus’ head when he set out for Jerusalem or when he incurred the wrath of the Jewish leaders by entering the city as a King, by challenging their views and by being high-handed in the Temple. What we do know is that at any point Jesus could have turned back. At any point, Jesus could have decided that it was all too hard and simply given up. At any point, Jesus could have chosen to do what was right for him, rather than what might be right for others.

But as relentlessly as the forces of evil lined up against him, Jesus doggedly continued on the path that was before him, the path that would ensure death for him and life for the world.

This is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for us – God, in Jesus entering our world and pouring out love and compassion on an ungrateful world. God demonstrates God’s love for us in Jesus’ giving himself completely to and for us – doing whatever it would take to enable us to live our lives as fully as we possibly can.

God cannot and will not stop loving us. It remains for us to accept that we are loved and to discover that it is only by surrendering to God’s love that we will find fulfillment, freedom and peace. It remains for us to abandon ourselves to God and to thereby see that it is only in God we have all that we want or need.

[1] Reported in the latest Marie Claire Australia magazine (April 16, 2016, p104-106).

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