Father Mark, Reflections

Overexposure

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Welcome to the most used and perhaps memorized sentence in the Bible. I remember seeing “John 3:16” written on signs at baseball and football games, held by numbers of fans.

The word within this passage that is the most overused and misunderstood is the word, “love.” English has but one word for “love.” Sanskrit has 96 different variations on the word. I “loved,” my coconut creme pie that Kathy made for my birthday. I “love” my truck. I would really “love” it if my team would win. How did you use the word, “love,” the last time you said it? We’ve overused and displaced the word, “love” so much that I rarely use it any more as it has become commonplace and empty. I look for a more specific word to describe my meaning instead of the general catch-all word that “love” has become.

In English, the word “love” generally is used to described from the Latin word, eros. Eros has the sense of being attracted to something. Eros is associated with attachment. We attach ourselves to objects and people because we like what they do for us. Kind of self-referencing or self-serving don’t you think? There’s nothing wrong with attaching to things we like. But what does “love” mean when we speak of God? I’ll give you a clue. It’s not attachment.

The Hebrew and Aramaic have several words used for various aspects for “love.” The word in English that describes the Aramaic word for John 3:16 is cherish. When one cherishes someone, they hold the person lightly with a sense of awe and reverence, without the thought of possession. That which is cherished is given and received as a gift. I may “love” my truck, I may even be attached to it. I was able to buy my truck. But you certainly cannot buy that which you cherish–that which is given to you. We don’t take things for granted that we cherish. Cherish holds an awareness of value for that which is cherished. God cherishes us so much he gave us Jesus. Jesus cherishes us so much that he died for us without our being able to give him anything that would in any way begin to offer him in return.

Realize that you are cherished from above and from within. For the Spirit has placed His home within you.

Sit in silence for awhile and allow yourself to feel how cherished you are. You will never be the same again. But that’s what real love does, doesn’t it.

Hail, O cherished ones,

Fr. Mark