Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Love is a verb

Norma Jean Mortenson spent much of her childhood in foster homes. In one of those foster homes, when she was eight years old, one of the boarders raped her and gave her a nickel. He said, 'Here, Honey. Take this and don't ever tell anyone what I did to you.' When little Norma Jean went to her foster mother to tell her what had happened she was beaten badly for saying bad things.

Norma Jean turned into a very pretty young girl and people began to notice. Boys whistled at her and she began to enjoy that, but she always wished they would notice she was a person too--not just a body--or a pretty face--but a person. She went to Hollywood and took a new name-- Marilyn Monroe and the publicity people told her, 'We are going to create a modern sex symbol out of you.' And this was her reaction, 'A symbol? Aren't symbols things people hit together?' They said, 'Honey, it doesn't matter, because we are going to make you the most smoldering sex symbol that ever hit the celluloid.'  She was an overnight smash success, but she kept asking, 'Did you also notice I am a person? Would you please notice?' Then she was cast in the dumb blonde roles.

Everyone hated Marilyn Monroe. She would keep her crews waiting two hours on the set. She was regarded as a selfish prima donna. What they didn't know was that she was in her dressing room being sick because she was so terrified. She kept saying, 'Will someone please notice I am a person. Please.' They didn't notice. They wouldn't take her seriously.
"She went through three marriages--always pleading, 'Take me seriously as a person.' Everyone kept saying, 'But you are a sex symbol. You can't be other than that.'

"Marilyn kept saying 'I want to be a person. I want to be a serious actress.'
"And so on that Saturday night, at the age of 35 when all beautiful women are supposed to be on the arm of a handsome escort, Marilyn Monroe took her own life. She killed herself.  When her maid found her body the next morning, she noticed the telephone was off the hook. It was dangling there beside her. Later investigation revealed that in the last moments of her life she had called a Hollywood actor and told him she had taken enough sleeping pills to kill herself. He answered with the words 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!' That was the last word she heard. She dropped the phone--left it dangling.

'What really killed Marilyn Monroe, love goddess who never found any love?' She died because she never got through to anyone who understood or cared.

In his encounter with the scribe in this morning’s Gospel reading, Jesus reminds us also of the all transforming importance of love, but that love is not just an emotion, but a verb. 
In replying to the question about what the most important of the 613 commands and 365 prohobitions of the Old Testament Jesus quotes from the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus:

“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” That call to love God with all that you are is a declaration of faith in the God who loved us first. It is still said by faithful Jews each day. God’s love for us is unconditional, unmerited and undeserved. He just loves, not because of what we have done or who we are, but because of who He is. It is the underpinning of everything.

“You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.”

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote: Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.

The order in which Jesus quotes these it seems is crucial. It is not possible to love God and not love our neighbour and a good litmus test of us knowing that we are loved by God and loving Him in return is practically displaying that in loving others. If we leave church and do not display love to others in action, we have failed as his disciples. For love is not about how we feel but about how others feel because they are loved by God through us and a sharing of what ourselves have received through the outpouring of God’s love for us all through Christ on the cross. The second command is the fulfillment of the first and we are called to follow that love...

[Here I encouraged the church to respond to the need for help that we need as we seek to set up the Food Bank]

Love is a verb - love is a person in Jesus Christ in and through you.