Saturday, April 17, 2010

TH E WORD in the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK: Loving as the Shepherd loves

" HOW DO I LOVE THEE? Let me count the ways..." so begins one beautiful poem written by a poet to her husband. Elizabeth Barrett Browning knew fully well what love meant when she dedicated this poem, which is one of her known works, to her poet-husband Robert Browning. It meant doing everything, and being everything for the one whom you love. It has always been a question, about what love really means, to what extent does love go, what limits and boundaries should one surpass in order for one to truly say that he is able to love.

We are in the Easter Season, in the Third Sunday, to be exact. We gaze at the visage of Christ, risen and victorious, one which was once no stranger to pain and rejection and suffering and ugliness as it gazed upon a cruel and indifferent humanity. He is the very same one who said, "
I am the Good Shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep...and I lay down my life for my sheep" (cf. Jn 10:11, 15), words which were not empty, for he proved it, in the most bloody way. In laying down his life for the errant sheep he proved the love God has for sinful man. The Cross therefore stands as the sign of the Good Shepherd's love, the staff with which he leads and guides those numbered among his flock.

In the latter part of the Gospel this Third Sunday of Easter we hear Jesus, risen and victorious, ask Peter this question:
Do you love me?...Peter, who had denied him three times, three times is asked the same question, to which he dutifully (and truthfully, no doubt) answers: Yes Lord, you know that I love you. Jesus then says: Feed my sheep.

In the short exchange that we witness between the Master and the repentant disciple we learn what it means to love God, to love Christ, and what it means to love as Christ loves. In effect, to love God, and to love as He loves, is to feed the sheep. And who feeds the sheep? None else but the Shepherd, and don't we have a Shepherd in Christ Jesus, who offered his life on the Cross? To love means to love like the Shepherd, who loves us from the altar of the Cross. Jesus asks us: Do you love me? Then love as I loved, as a shepherd gives his life for the sheep, and for us, disciples, there is no other way that the cross, to die to oneself , to offer one's life. To give. the Cross is the royal throne upon which Love reigns, and it is the only true measure of love.
So, "how do I love thee"? Let me count the ways......

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