Over this past week, I made a silent retreat to continue my discernment. Over this week, one of the daily readings was one of my favorites, from the First Letter to John. It is in this passage that we read that God is love, that God is agape. I spent a good deal of time contemplating this passage, and, to try to understand it in a new, unfamiliar light, I read it in Spanish (which was a most helpful exercise!). Anyway, in doing so, I read “A Dios nunca lo ha visto nadie pero si nos amamos unos a otros, Dios vive en nosotros y su amor se hace realidad en nosotros” or, roughly, No one has ever seen God, yet, when we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is made real in us. (1 Jn 4:12)
This is a slightly different interpretation from the traditional English, where it is said that God’s love is brought to perfection in us. I like to think that it is the Spanish is closer to the truth the writers wanted to speak. And what a bold statement it is: that God’s love requires us to love each other, “to agape” each other for God’s love to come to reality. And it is in this co-creating, it is in this concrete action, that we come to know God and God’s love is made real. What a bold statement.
More powerful to me still was that was these very words, and words like them, that Cortina, that Romero and Grande and Ford and Sobrino read and took to heart. When Grande said that we need to put little feet to the Gospel, wasn’t he saying this very idea? wasn’t he saying that for the Love of God, the redemptive, liberative message of a Kingdom to be a message fulfilled, we need to use our God-given talents to better the world, to work as agents of this transformation?
Indeed, this is the word, this is the love made flesh. This is love, “se hace realidad“. And what a message that is! It is a moment of great hope — that we can create moments of love with our hands, with our feet, with our hearts, our worlds, our talents, our being. That we can use the love of God that is within us — only in us — to make a better world. And it is this goal, this hope for a better world based in love that is at the heart of the Christian message. Such a world only comes about with work. Such a world only comes about with love. And therein, Sobrino’s great insight: with love comes hope, with great love, great hope.
And so it is with great hope that I realize the goodness that lies within me and within all; after all, as that passage starts, as “God has so loved us, so we must love one another”. In our creation with talents and personalities and experiences that are unique across the span of eternity, we are each called to play our own role in the creation of God’s love, en realidad. Any time a person is denied this by some cause which we can prevent, that, that is sin. And that is something that we must rail against and work to end with all our energy. And that is at least a little of what it means to put love into practice.
Perhaps the Beatles said it best. There is nothing you can do that can’t be done. Within our own pastoral and prophetic actions, we come to know a little more of the Kingdom, of God’s reality, of pure love. With that love comes peace and hope. And perhaps, just perhaps, it was those words, of God’s love made reality within us, where the authors of Medellín found the inspiration to write “Peace is not found, it is built!”
So work to build that peace, work for that love. Work for both in the here and now, en realidad!