Posted on: Monday 16 May 2022
Posted in: Anglican Faith Connections
For the next two weeks, I am taking the morning Sunday services at St Peter’s Church Southport as the rector, Fr Don Parker and his wife are visiting New Zealand to meet their latest grandchild. Last Sunday I preached on the gospel reading. This gospel reading was from John’s Gospel and relates Jesus’ great commandment to love one another. This commandment, as it were, rounds off Jesus’ teaching at the Last Supper. The words seem simple enough, but their very simplicity belies their complexity. For what did Jesus actually mean by the word “love”? The Greeks had at least seven words for the English word “love” but the main three were eros, philos and agape. Eros refers to human love and carries with it the idea of emotional commitment. It is the love of pop songs: “All you need is love, love. Love is all you need” and so on. Philos has more of a ring of sympathy and empathy about it. Philos is the love of a scholar for her subject or the love of our fellow humans which we see in the word philanthropy. Thus, philanthropy is seen in the motivation of those who work for, or volunteer to work for, charities. It is seen in those of us who give of their time, effort, and money to non-profit organisations. Recently it was seen here in St Hilda’s in our Giving Day where we came together as a community to establish a fund through our School’s Foundation to enable scholarships to be given in the future. These are very positive understandings of love, but they are not what the commandment is about for it uses the word agape. This is the divine, self-sacrificing love that Jesus generally demonstrated throughout his earthly ministry but specifically in the washing his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. It is also seen, of course, in his death and resurrection for us. So it is that love to which all Christians are called. A love that is not easy for it is a love that goes beyond self, interest, or emotion. It is a love fed by the grace of God through prayer, the bread and wine of the Eucharist, and dedicated reading of the Bible.
Fr Patrick Duckworth