Aloha Friday Message – May 8, 2015 – Do you love me?

1519AFC050815 – Do you love me?

Read it online here, please.

John 15:17 17 This is my command: Love each other. [1]

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Much love to you, Beloved! Yes, I do love you. How? Hmmm. That’s tough to answer in English. I took a look back at other times when we have asked about love and Love. Love is a four-letter word we use very often these days – so often that I think we have become a little confused about what it really means.

forever loveI love you. I love peanut butter. I love Mozart. I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills, I love the flowers, I love the daffodils, I love the fireside when all the lights are low, Boom-dee-adada! Boom-dee-adada! Boom-dee-adada! I love camping, I love violin music. I love jazz. I love the Beatles. I love Django Reinhardt. I love Stephane Grapelli. I love my kids. I love Crucita – a lot!! I love cream filberts. I love mango salsa. I love Hawaii. I love Chimayo chili. I love the Bible. I love Jesus. I love Yahweh. I love The Spirit. I love loving things, and persons, and just about any noun or verb you can think of. I love you more than I did when I started writing this message.

Anything wrong with that paragraph?

Ahhhhh, what is love?

We often turn to Biblical Greek here to help us understand what we find in Scripture. There are several words which are translated “love” in our Bibles. There is XENIA ξενία, (xenía) {zeh-NEE-ah} , which is hospitality “Guest-friendship.” It is hospitality that is not ostentatious but rather gracious and heartfelt, humble and unassuming, characterized by mutual courtesy and respect. This is usually on a one-to-one basis so that two people are involved, but it can also be for two or more persons.

Another Greek word for LOVE is STORGE στοργή (storgē) {store-gee}. This is the kind of natural, deep, instinctive love between parents and children. Again, it is usually on a one-to-one basis, but can also be for two or more persons. Those of us with large families know STORGE can be challenging at time, but also very powerful; in fact, it is powerful even if only two persons are involved.

A third word in Greek for LOVE is PHILIA φιλία (philia) {fil-i-ah}. This is a pretty familiar root-word and we see it in other words like “audiophile”, Philadelphia, and Theophilus. It is “brotherly/sisterly love,” and is usually associated with dignity and respect of and for others. In this also, the minimum number of persons involved is two.

There is also EROS ἔρως (érōs) {eh-rohs}. This is the LOVE that seems to capture most of the attention these days. It is the erotic [sic], passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. Physical and intimate, this LOVE is rooted in the deepest and most basic part of humanity. It is the form of LOVE that works best, in fact exclusively best, with only two persons.

Finally there is AGAPE ἀγάπη, (agápē) {ah-gah-ee}. Agape is the LOVE that transcends all other forms. In the New Testament, this is the verb used to characterize the LOVE that God has. We’ve all heard of AGAPE love, in fact I’ve mentioned it several times in these Aloha Friday Messages. Here, however, is something new and different I learned from Father Al Rubadello many years ago:

Agape LOVE is a love that can only exist for three or more persons. It is a love that grows out of community, not self. God is LOVE and God is Three Persons. When a couple shares agape LOVE, it usually includes him, her, and God; that’s five persons. Agape love with a child is Mom, Dad, and Baby. Or Mom, Baby, and God. Agape love is not self-based and as so is not self-serving. In modern Greek, this is the verb used for romantic love, the kind of love that is blind. Agape love carries with it no preconceptions, no prejudices; it is that kind of love that is usually called “unconditional.” Some folks think that only God can love unconditionally. I do not. My wife and kids prove it. They still love me despite the times I have not have always loved them as well as I could.

You know people like that, don’t you? People who love you no matter how much they know about you? How about people that YOU love regardless of how many time they have hurt, disappointed, or ignored you? See? You know about agape love, too. Keep God in the equation, and no matter what, you’ll always have enough love to actualize that agape reality. All the other forms of LOVE are real, but only agape love is really, really real. It is not a subordinate kind of love like all the previous words we’ve looked at here. It is superordinate LOVE, a LOVE that is superior in all ways to any and all other kinds of love. It is the way the Holy Trinity loves us.

You may remember this exchange between Jesus and Peter after Jesus’ Resurrection. Jesus has sent the Disciples up to Galilee promising to meet them there. While they are waiting, they decide to go fishing. The fish all night, catch nothing, and are about to give up and go ashore when a stranger on the beach asks if they’ve caught anything. Their answer shows their frustration at having caught nothing. Jesus tells them to try again. They do, and the net is filled to the point of nearly bursting. They realize the stranger on the shore is Jesus. Peter jumps in and swims ashore. The others come with the boat. Jesus helps them prepare a breakfast, then he turns to Peter and this happens:

doyoulovemeJohn 21:15-1715 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

In this exchange uses two “love words,” ἀγάπη and φιλία – agape and philia. It looks like this:

Jesus →   Peter Jesus Peter Jesus Peter
ἀγαπᾷς → φιλῶ Do you agapao me? I phileo   you. Do you truly love me? I am fond of you.
ἀγαπᾷς → φιλῶ Do you agapao me? I phileo   you. Do you truly love me? I am fond of you.
φιλεῖς → φιλῶ Do you phileis me? I phileo   you. Do you have affection for me? You know I am fond of you.

Scholars agree that in this exchange, Peter was reinstated after his denial during Jesus’ trial. How many times would Jesus have to ask me before I could be reinstated? Three? Once? A hundred? Too many to count? Yeah, that’s more like it; but, he’s always there, always coming back to me and asking, “Do you Love me now?” The follow-up question is always the one that trips me up: “How do show that you love me?” That command at the top of this message is how it is to be done. The Apostle Paul made it simple – as did Jesus: 1 Corinthians 16:14 14 Let all that you do be done in love. Πάντα ὑμῶν ἐν ἀγάπῃ γινέσθω. Another way to say that is “Make every thought, word, and deed begin and end in love.”

Beloved, if he comes to us and says, “Do you love me?” we can show him our agape love for God and neighbor. And should it seem to be a little insubstantial in the light of his Glory and Grace, then we can follow Peter’s example and feed Jesus’ flock with more of his Love. He told us that if we loved him we would keep his commandment. All we need is love, and for that you don’t even have to know how to dance. You may recall this song from “back in the day” by the Contours 1962 Do you love me?

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages)
http://biblehub.com


[1] New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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