Where love is absent, God is absent (Bonus Post)

A companion blog to Season 4 Episode 12 of the Accidental Tomatoes Podcast

The following was shared with the Welch Charge of the United Methodist Church in McDowell County, WV, as a Maundy Thursday reflection for Holy Week 2023. This reflection is the basis for our conversation on Season 4, Episode 12 of the Accidental Tomatoes Podcast, available here on our website or wherever you stream podcasts.

Fr. Ernesto Cardenal gathered together his parishioners, a group of poor, rural Nicaraguan farmers, for Maundy Thursday Mass and a discussion on the night’s Gospel lesson – Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and giving them the Love Commandment.

One of those present, named Elvis, an uneducated man with no theological training, gave the most profound theological insight into the text: “As long as we have a divided society, as long as there are class distinctions, [Jesus] is not there,” he said. “And they’re going to be looking for him without finding him. But if we obey the new commandment, then we’ve got him with us.”

Indeed, when we love one another Jesus is present. When we love one another divisions begin to break down. Walls are smashed through. Boundaries are crossed.

It is only when we fail to love one another that we experience God’s absence, because God is love. Therefore, if we fail to love, we fail to follow the One who demonstrates love for us by taking the form of a servant and kneeling to wash our feet.

If we fail to love we fail to follow the One who demonstrates love for us by entering into our suffering, experiencing our pain, and transforming it.

When we fail to love, we fail to follow Jesus to the cross.

On this night prior to his state-sanctioned murder on trumped-up charges of sedition, Jesus indeed is fomenting revolution among his followers. But not a revolution seeking to violently overthrow those in power. No, this is a love revolution that subverts cultural normalcies and societal fallacies. A revolution of the heart that brings humanity together with God and one another.

A spiritual, nonviolent uprising that forms beloved community.

In our current climate of extreme political and social division, where hate seems to be winning, it’s difficult to see any trace of love. Difficult to see any trace of God, because where there is no love, God isn’t present.

And as long as we keep seeking to find God without the love of God overflowing within us, our search will continue to be futile, and our society will continue to traverse the road to perdition paved with our own hatred for one another.

That’s why it’s imperative that we who follow the Galilean Healer take to heart his command to love one another. It is by doing this that we shall spark a societal revolution and enact a new social reality rooted in Jesus’s love for us and the entirety of creation.

A new society rooted in communal love rather than fear and hate.

Then we shall find what we’re looking for. Then we shall have God with us.

Feature image by Jasmine Carter on Pexels.com

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