I think it’s probably fair to say that I tend to talk about “love” in one way or another quite a lot on this blog; and make no apology for doing so. To my mind, it is one of the most important aspects of our Christianity; and, of course, something that Jesus himself had quite a lot to say about.
Most of the earlier posts on Love have been about God loving us, or us loving God; both, of course, very important. But this Collect seems to be, to my mind, talking about something entirely different; love of each other. The phrase, “law of love”, feels a bit awkward, though. Can we legislate for love? Surely, love, if it’s to mean anything, has to be freely given?
A passage from Matthew’s Gospel comes to mind, which, for me, starts to make sense of the idea of this “law of love”. It comes from that great block of Jesus’ teaching known as “The Sermon on the Mount”:
‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
In these verses Jesus sets out the ideal that we should be striving to achieve. It’s a very high ideal, and certainly a very difficult one to achieve. But that shouldn’t stop us attempting it. After all, the higher we aim, the higher we will achieve. I think, currently, I fall a long way short — a long way!
However, there are people that have come close to the ideal set by Jesus in the sermon on the mount, even in our own period of history. Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who I posted about yesterday, is one particularly notable person in the last century. But we can also think about Pope John Paul II, the Polish Pope who was the catalyst that helped bring about the fall of Eastern European Communism; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who helped to bring apartheid to the peaceful end that everyone thought was impossible. I’m sure you can think of many more.
So we can see that despite it being difficult to achieve, or even get close to, the ideal set by Jesus, it is possible — even by us weak human beings. Keep praying that God will help us to keep his law of love, and we may even find that one day, we, too, are getting close.
God of truth,
help us to keep your law of love
and to walk in the ways of wisdom,
that we may find true life
in Jesus Christ your Son.
Additional Collect for The First Sunday after Trinity
is Copyright © The Archbishops Council