Lately I’ve been reflecting on the act of love; what it means to give love, to receive love, to live love. How it feels to express love, resist love, fear love. In so many ways, love is risky. It can be terrifyingly painful. C.S. Lewis writes, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.” If love holds the potential to cause great pain, then why is it that we choose it over and over again?
John’s Gospel today tells the familiar yet remarkable story of Lazarus - of how Jesus brings him back to life. As far as I can remember, I’ve always read this as a healing story, or a miracle narrative, which it is. However, what strikes me today is how it is also a love story. The word “love” itself appears in the reading: “Jesus LOVED Martha and her sister and Lazarus” and, “See how he [Jesus] LOVED him [Lazarus].” This love expressed by Jesus for his friends, and then in his grieving of the death of his friend, models such a raw human experience of loving. And yet even in this loving, our divine Lord, who risks such loss and vulnerability, shows us that love can be transformative, even life changing.
Like Lazarus, Jesus heals our broken hearts time and time again. He makes them bigger and better than they’ve ever been before. So sure, we might feel pain and sorrow when we give and receive love. Welcome and invite in these emotions. For we must keep practicing love and faith in order to believe. Every act of faith is an act of love. If we believe, we will rise. In the end, love is always worth the risk.
Augustine and Culture Seminar Program
Center for Peace and Justice Education