Lenten Reflections: Love that Transforms
Image by Flickr user qthomasbower
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during Lent, we offer reflections from Bread staff and others who faithfully work to end hunger.
Lectionary readings (from the Revised Common Lectionary):
The Christian lifestyle is one that must constantly be able to challenge society. In the third lectionary reading, St. Paul reminds the Ephesian community that they are called to live within society in a manner that transcends it. This calling challenges us to consistently live the radical principles of love in a world that continues to hate.
In the first reading for today, Job’s friend admonishes Job’s lament by appealing to the theology of retribution. In that perspective, God rewards the good and punishes the wicked. However with Job, as with Jesus, we can affirm that they are both righteous and just, and yet they suffer. Both of them demonstrated God’s radical love with acts of justice and charity, and yet society either punishes (as with Jesus) or ridicules (as with Job) those who are good and righteous.
In St. Paul’s famous “hymn to love” we are told that “love is patient, love is kind,” but from these readings we are also reminded of the fact that love can and will hurt. This is the transformative dimension of love where we can experience a rebirth into faith and hope through the trials of our own despair and anguish. For Job and Jesus their experience of suffering does not condemn their acts of justice and charity. At the end both of them are vindicated through the loving and transformative intervention of God.
In the second reading the psalmist recognizes this pattern as well. After lamenting the present social anguish the psalmist recognizes God’s wondrous deeds throughout history and in the following psalm that message of hope is rekindled through the power of faith. Faith in a God whose love has prevailed in the past and even now, in the anguish of the present, can still be felt.
John Gonzalez is Northeast regional organizer for Bread for the World.
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