Love is perfection of life

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
The Seven Last Words, 06 April 2023
Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 2014.

There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

John 19:29-30

Every Maundy Thursday, people await that most unique part of the Mass every year when the priest washes the feet of some members of the community. As a priest, it is one of the most humbling experiences I have had when a brother priest washed my feet on that Mass I attended in 2008 and 2021.

But there is something more beautiful to the ritual washing of feet. It is the context and words that accompany that: “Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

The Greek word for the “end” is telos which is not just a terminal end in itself but indicates or connotes direction. Or fulfillment and perfection, not just a ceasing or end or stoppage of life or any operation.

When Jesus said on the Cross “It is finished”, he meant he had fulfilled his mission, that is, he had perfectly loved us to the end by giving us his very life.

At his death on the Cross, Jesus showed us perfectly in no uncertain terms his love for us, the Father’s love for us that he had told to Nicodemus at the start of the fourth gospel that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn. 3:16).

There on the Cross this was definitively fulfilled and perfected more than ever. Jesus did not have to die on the Cross but he chose to go through it because of his love for us.

Here we find the beautiful meaning of love. It is not just obeying the commandments nor being good and kind with everyone. Love in its totality is the perfection of life. It is our only destiny in life, our call to life from the very beginning. Love, love, love. Keep on loving until it hurts. Until the end.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

1 John 4:11-12

From that same letter, John declared at the very start that God is love which according to Pope Benedict XVI in his first encyclical is the most profound statement about God found only in Christianity.

My dear friends, only God can love us perfectly. Only Jesus can love us perfectly like what he did on the Cross. Human love is always imperfect. In our imperfect love, let us find Jesus filling up, making whole, perfecting our love for each other. Let us die in our selves sometimes when we have to let go with each one’s imperfection like when they make side comments. Forget all about revenge. Forgive. Understand the shortcomings of everyone. Accept and own the pains and hurts inflicted on us by our loved ones like our mom and dad, your former wife or husband, your friends, of those who have hurt you in words and deeds. That is being like Christ, dying on the Cross because of love.

Let us pray for those we love and those who love us despite our imperfections.

Lord Jesus Christ,
how I wish I could love until the end,
how I wish I could say too like you
"It is finished";
forgive me because many times with me,
the pains and hurts I have had are not yet
finished, even festering inside me,
eating me up, rotting inside me
that I could not grow and bloom in you.
Forgive me and teach me to forgive too
for it is in forgiving we truly love
perfectly like you.
Photo by my former student, Ms. April Oliveros on their ascent to Mt. Pulag, 25 March 2023.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s