Among the best friends of Jesus had during his time here on earth were the sisters Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. Specially touching and poignant was the love and affection Mary had for Jesus – how she would waste her time and her things doting on Jesus. That started the rumor that they were lovers and maybe even had a child, the stuff of quite a number of recent conspiracy books and novels. But I love reading and reflecting on the stories about this family and their relationship with Jesus. It reminds and teaches me a lot about love.
I have always been enamored by love. In my youth, I was a starry eyed romantic. I often turned my thoughts trying to catch what the meaning of love is: sometimes ephemeral, oftentimes eternal – for love is often driven by emotions, therefore fleeting. Bit love is also a decision, therefore more lasting. I searched high and low: in books like the ‘Phenomenology of Love’ by Luijpen and ‘The Art of Loving’ by Erich Fromm, in relationships, in causes, in silence.
I have learned that love is all about seeing the truth and the reality in others, in seeing the beauty and the goodness in them beyond the grime, the wounds and the smell. Love is thinking less of myself and more of the other, more about the giving than the receiving. it is in being of service to the other. Love is sharing the laughter but also being there when the tears come. Love is sharing stories of joy and happiness but also sharing the silence when words are too inadequate to express the pain and the sorrow. Love is knowing the heart of the other person even before a single word is spoken. For love is express sometimes with words but often by a touch or an action.
The world understands love in a conditional way. the value of a person is conditioned by his possessions, his achievements and his productivity. Thus, the world finds it hard to love those without possessions like the poor and the homeless. The world finds it hard to make room and serve those without achievements like the widows and the orphans. The world finds it hard to be welcoming and accepting of those who are no longer or not yet productive like the elderly and the immigrants.
The love that Jesus taught us is unconditional, willing to lay down life for the sake of friends and family. All we need is to see the truth, the beauty and the goodness God has implanted in each one of us to realize we are all worth loving and living and even dying for. Now, if you will excuse me, I will go and join the dinner Lazarus and his sisters prepared for the Lord. I would love to see Mary wasting her perfumed oils, washing the feet of Jesus. Come along. Everyone is invited.
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.