In preparation for Holy Thursday this year, I find myself reflecting on Jesus’ final words to his disciples in the gospel of John. “I give you a new commandment, to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” At the core of my own faith is a simple conviction: that to love is to know God and this is how we are called to make God known to the world.
Arthur Peacocke, the distinguished British scientist and theologian died from cancer at the age of 81 in 2001. Shortly before his death he penned these words. I have found them helpful: “Over the years I have given much thought and spilt much ink on the nature of God and God’s interaction with people. Not surprisingly the subtler nuances of my deliberations have fallen away before the absolute conviction that God is love and eternally so. This remains the foundation of my prayers and thoughts for ‘underneath are the everlasting arms.’ This is not always easily experienced and it needs concentrated meditation – the ‘black dog’ of depression is sometimes difficult to dispel.” Quoting the Venerable Bede (ca. 720), Peacock goes on to write, our human life is “as if when on a winter’s night you sit feasting with your elderman and thanes, a single sparrow should fly swiftly into the hall, and coming in at one door, instantly flying out through another. In that time in which it is indoors, it is indeed not touched by the fury of the winter, but yet, this smallest space of calmness being passed almost in a flash, from winter going into winter again, it is lost to your eyes. Somewhat like this appears the life of man [sic.]; but of what follows or what went before, we are utterly ignorant. … Thanks to the revelation of God through Jesus the Christ, we do not share this ignorance. I know that God is waiting for me to be enfolded in love.” As quoted in Context, Martin E. Marty on Religion and Culture, April 2007.