Tuesday, April 19, 2016

ἀγάπη


Our gospel reading for the upcoming Sunday is John 13:31-35, Jesus at the Last Supper after the adversary has left, giving his friends the love commandment. I know four Greek words for love (which might be translated lovingkindness, brotherly love, love in the family, and erotic love). To my knowledge, two are used by whoever wrote The Gospel according to John (in the conclusion where Jesus and Peter have the exchange about “Do you love me?” and “Lord, you know that I love you.”). In the Love Commandment he only uses the word ἀγάπη. 

All this hits home with me this morning for a couple of reasons. One, a cousin (I’ve never met her, she’s a daughter of my father’s first cousin, which makes her my second cousin, doesn’t it, as we share the same greatgrandparents) circulated an email that she titles “There is a lot of good in the world.” It’s a series of eighteen, each captioned followed by illustrating pictures. Several especially touch my heart:

Heart surgeon calms weeping 2-year-old girl before heart operation

Entire neighborhood secretly learns sign language to surprise deaf neighbor

Turkish bride & groom spend their wedding day feeding 4,000 refugees

Mom adopts all 4 of her best friend’s daughters after she died of brain cancer

Man has heart attack while mowing lawn; firefighters finish mowing lawn after saving him

Hungarians bring their shoes to the Budapest train station for arriving migrants

And elsewhere in this morning’s email, Barbara Crafton’s “The Geranium Farm” featuring homey art about Gandhi leading a protest against the Salt Act that made it illegal in India for anyone except licensed British nationals to make salt in India. 



This and such as the Amritsar Massacre, the repression of Native Americans, the Japanese Empire in Korea and China, the Third Reich, and colonialists throughout history symbolize the arrogance and brutality of conquering nations who see themselves as superiors, make themselves masters, and greedily, cruelly ravish the cultures, economies, and humanity of the conquered. Such is in fact the foundation of today’s horrific world situation and anyone who can’t see it can only be defined as stupid, blind, and accessory. Antithesis of ἀγάπη and adversary of Παντοκράτωρ; in human history, the most fervently, certitudinously evilly religious amongst us, then and now.

ἐντολὴν καινὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους, καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους. ἐν τούτῳ γνώσονται πάντες ὅτι ἐμοὶ μαθηταί ἐστε, ἐὰν ἀγάπην ἔχητε ἐν ἀλλήλοις. (John 13:34-35, SBLGNT)

ἀγάπη, not a feeling, is kindness, consideration, generosity, thoughtfulness, impersonally, the basis of humanity itself. In Christian terms, ἀγάπη is God’s love for us.

Tuesday muse

DThos+

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