Love is the only way
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves is of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:7
I am drawn to the work of the famous Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci for his ability to capture the mystery of the human form in all its inherent beauty and contradiction. The Master personally selected models from the Floretine streets for all of his paintings from the Mona Lisa to the Salvador Mundi portrait of Jesus to Judas in The Last Supper. There is a story about Leonardo, true or spiritual allegory, where the artist searched and found on the cobblestone streets of Florence a model for his daring rendering of Jesus; an exquisite human being whose eyes projected the light and whose presence suggested all the wondrous possibilities of God. Years later, da Vinci would return to Florence’s Piazza della Signoria, but this time, in search of a model for Judas in his masterpiece, The Last Supper. What face could capture the betrayer of Love? Finally, he found what he was looking for; eyes lost, a presence that communicated the brokenness of humanity.
When da Vinci approached the model, the man said, “You don’t remember me, Master, but I know you. Many years ago, it was I you painted for the face of Christ, our Lord.”
Within us all is the full spectrum of living possibilities. Are we aiming for the light of Christ or descending to Judas darkness? At any given moment, our eyes, our thoughts and our actions can reflect love, light and redemption or fear, selfishness and despair. It all comes down to Love. Do we follow, pursue and enable it for ourselves and others or like Judas, do we betray the love within us for pride, insecurity and selfish gains?
When we hurt the people that we claim to love, think of ourselves before all else, and either ignore or turn our back on God, we are the living face of Judas, betrayer of Love. Sadly, it is sometimes our reality, and in secret we lament our lesser selves. But in the same breath, we can embody Victor Hugo’s illumined words in Les Miserables, “When I see you, I see the face of God.” Eyes that radiate benevolence, words that inspire hope, love that is selfless and actions that make redemption a reality for ourselves and others. This is humanity at its best—the face of Christ, our Lord.
In his homily at the Royal nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Bishop Michael Curry quoted Rev. Martin Luther King, “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.”
Every day God invites us to try again. The ultimate goal in our evolving as human beings is to embody more and more, in the words of Paul, “not I, but the Love within me.”
Love is the way.
Live in Hope,