February 2018

Fools for Love

By one of those delightful quirks of fate, Ash Wednesday this year falls on St Valentine’s Day, while Easter Day is on All Fools Day. 

I like the link between fools and love. Real love involves doing or being many things which the world might deem foolish: real love involves, just to reel of three things, giving of oneself without any thought for reward; it involves making oneself entirely vulnerable; it involves at all times putting the feelings, needs and emotions of others above your own. And in a society which seems to be to be increasingly timid, inward-looking and defensive, none of those attitudes are going to be fashionable.

But, of course, Christ presents us with a vision of a world which is never timid, inward-looking and defensive; instead he offers us an alternative which is outward-looking and forward-looking; one which rejoices in the glorious richness and variety of all those made in God’s image; one which encourages us to strengthen that vision by living a life of peace, justice, love and reconciliation. And yet we turn our back on that and embrace a view of the world where the most important thing seems to be to erect physical and metaphorical barriers.

It is good that we begin the holy season of Lent with a reminder of the importance of love: not a red-rosy, chocolate-boxy, candlelit-dinner-for-two, intimate vision of love - wonderful though that undoubtedly is -  but rather one in which we all love our neighbour - simple as that. Because if we don’t love our neighbour - whoever or whatever she or he might be - I simply do not understand how we claim in any way that we love God.

It would be really good if we could all spend the wonderful season of Lent by looking at how we can all be more loving; how we can create more peace; how we can stand up for the downtrodden and how we can draw those estranged together.. And then, if we are really foolish, we can gather at dawn on top of the highest mountain in southern England and greet the risen Lord and pledge ourselves to work for his kingdom. And when we come down, we will, like all our brothers and sisters celebrating Easter, be determined to love our neighbour, to embrace all those whose lives we touch, to work for peace, to uphold justice, to draw people together, or, in short, to make the world a better place.

And if that sounds foolish, then just look at the alternative and ask yourselves if that is any better.

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