Wednesday 22 January 2014

Fraternal charity and prayer

A wonderful realization yesterday, reading chapter 14 of the gospel of John. If you love me, keep my commandments. Which ones? Love one another as I have loved you. And then, 14:21: If you keep my commandments - if you love one another in the way I have loved you - my Father will love you, and I will love you, and I will reveal myself to you. Or again: my Father and I will come and make our home in you.

Love of neighbour directly connected with the dwelling of the Father and Son in us, making our home in us, revealing themselves to us... A good thought for the retreat. Fraternal charity as a great path to prayer, if you want to put it that way. And here, a leaf from Tony De Mello's extremely threatening exercise: arrange all the others in a line, starting from the one you love most. A great exercise that can be done even in the silence of my heart, because certainly I carry such lines in my heart. And even very simply, the little exercise of looking at each confrere and asking about love - and praying for the love that I need.

But the deep connection there in the Johannine text between love and what we call so abstractly 'prayer' is lovely. It is, after all, the deep - and unsurprising - connection between love of God and love of neighbour that was, for Jesus, without a doubt, the greatest commandment.

The constant challenge, to love even the un-love-ly. To love even those who refuse to love, who refuse to respond to little overtures of love. James Alison again. 

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