Love is God's Meaning
Discipleship as a Three-Legged Stool, Week 3
by Adam White

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I was frozen and numb. I had just realized my mother stopped breathing in hospice care at Arlington Memorial Hospital. She had breathed her last breath without any pain, which was a blessing considering the past eight years of her life had been a slow mental and physical deterioration due to dementia.

In the moment after the nurse on call proclaimed the time of her death, I was left in a state of hyper-emotion. My eyes were sharply focused on her hands. She was left gripping a rosary I had given to her a year ago. She held on to that rosary throughout the last week of her life while hooked up to breathing machines. I felt that nothing could have broken that numbness as I stood over my mother, stuck in stifling despair at 4:20 p.m. on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. My father had gone home to clean up and my fiancé was back in Dallas working. The only other person in the room was my older brother Richard.

Thank God my brother Richard was present. As the nurse walked out of the room and left my brother and I standing in this place of unbelief and uncertainty, Richard walked over to me, slowly. He lowered his head into my shoulder wrapped his arms around me and said in a broken voice escaping through tears, “I love you, Adam.” In that moment I broke down. I experienced the most painful and yet most beautiful moment that has occurred so far in my life. Richard didn’t stop holding on to me. His arms transcended space and time as though God was holding me, opening a crevasse to my soul that had not yet been discovered.

In that moment, I received a meaning of God I have yet to find in any book, class, hymn, or sermon. I was given God as love – a love that holds onto us in the midst of life’s most intense moments and refuses to let go.

God’s meaning is magnified in community, where God extends to us an image of love that quenches the depths of our souls.

We were made to reflect this image of love through caring and holding one another in life.

How and why does God offer us such an image of love through living with one another in community? Who is God in relationship to us and to God’s self?

As the early 20th Century, Catholic-Swiss Theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar understood it, Love is God’s meaning.  

Love is God’s meaning so that every attribute of God must be understood in terms of kenosis— a divine, self-giving love that is shared between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Humans can be whole and fully alive only as we join in with the Triune God’s kenotic, salvific mission in this world.

Through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, people are invited to enter into the mystery that is God’s love and empowered to love as Jesus loves, bringing the good news of the gospel into the world. Balthasar describes the life of discipleship as one of walking toward the eschaton, which “always involves taking along the world. Christ himself walked only in communion with others.”

The first leg of discipleship is the necessity of community, because at our core, at God’s core, we find meaning in loving one another.

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:

  • Think about the relationships in your life that have been a gift of God’s love:
  • In what ways did these persons extend love to you?
  • How have you offered love to others?
  • Who is a person in need that is God inviting you to wrap your arms around? Or who can hold you if you are in need?

Reference: 
[1] Adapted from Elaine Heath, Mystic Way of Evangelism, (Elaine Heath, 2008).

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