27 May 2022

Offaly influencer reflects on the 'beatitudes of love' this Valentine's Day


Ronan Scully of Self Help Africa

Love has hopefully been in the air this week after the celebrations of Valentine's day and also because the gospel readings for readers who go to church at the weekend were about the Beatitudes. We mainly think in general about love in glowing terms, as something that is associated with joy, happiness and comfort. While the love we experience in church is nearly also joyful, happy and comforting, it also calls us to engage in the hard kind of love, the kind of love that Jesus talks about in the Beatitudes. Jesus talks about the love and blessings that those who are hungry, poor, and suffering will experience in the kingdom of God.

He wants us to strive to show attitudes of love and holiness to all on our journey through life. By being poor of heart: that is love and holiness. Reacting with meekness and humility: that is love and holiness. Knowing how to mourn with others: that is love and holiness. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness: that is love and holiness. Seeing and acting with mercy: that is love and holiness. Keeping a heart free of all that tarnishes love: that is love and holiness. Sowing peace all around us: that is love and holiness.

Accepting daily the path of the Gospel, even though it may cause us problems: that is love and holiness. Sometimes, in this troubled world of ours, we forget that love is all around us. We imagine the worst of other people and withdraw into our own shells. But try this simple test: Stand still in any crowded place you find yourself in and watch the people around you. Within a very short time, you will begin to see love, and you will see it over and over again.

A young mother or father talking lovingly to their child, a couple laughing together as they walk by, a person holding the door for a stranger, small signs of love are everywhere. The more you look with the look of love, the more you will see. Love is literally everywhere. We are surrounded by love. Love is really all that matters because everyone comes into this world with nothing other than love and leaves with nothing other than love. Think about it. Profession, career, educational achievements, bank accounts, our material goods are just tools, nothing more. Everything stays here. There are no pockets in a shroud. So just love and love those that really love you. Love during this month of February and always, as if there was nothing more important in your life.

Perhaps Love
With nearly all Covid restrictions almost totally lifted, we need to ask ourselves what we can do right now with love in our hearts, to improve the beautiful country we live in, to help bring jobs, compassion, mercy and healing after all the negativity and loss of lockdowns and to bring hope, love and comfort where none seemed to be in the offering over the past year or so? We can’t just leave it to the politicians and others in various forms of power, we must, each one of us put on the country jersey and get out there and do something for the betterment of one another especially for our children, our homeless, our elderly and our sick and infirm.

Sounds like a tall order, and yes it is, but the answer is small, simple and sweet. It's a simple suggestion that came to me when I was listening recently to a church choir singing at mass as they sang one of the many John Denver classic's, "Perhaps Love." The melody is playing gently in my mind right now as I write this thought for the week. I don't know all the words, I just keep hearing, "Perhaps Love", and maybe, just maybe perhaps love can help us all make a real difference for good, going forward in one another's lives.

This week, which was dedicated to St. Valentine and to the Beatitudes, when you look at your partner, your children, your parents, your friends, your colleagues please see them with the eyes of love. Remember that we are all just doing the very best we can at any given time, warts and all, but beneath it all, the current which runs within all of us is Love. That is the greatest gift we can receive and it is a gift we can re-gift! We are equipped with a never ending supply of love. When we look at those we care about with The Look of Love, we are dismissing that they left their towel lying on the floor (my wife forgives me regularly for this), we are ignoring that they left the fridge door open, we are looking at them with the eyes of love, we are remembering and connecting to the blessing we feel that they are in our lives.

The gratitude that they are sharing this journey with us right now! That they are here now! This is not something to take for granted, and yet we do so every single day, again and again. So, let's make our homes, our communities, our towns and cities and our country a better place than it has been in the past, one look at a time this week and well into the future. Take a moment to look at and appreciate the ones we love, the ones who are walking beside us, who are working beside us, who are living beside us and who are sharing this journey with us during these difficult economic, faithless and hard times. We all need to be seen with the eyes of love, to be reminded of our greatness and to be empowered by it. It is powerful soul food.

Do me a favour
Do one more thing for me, when you look in the mirror this week, look at yourself with the eyes of love. Don't look at the wrinkles, or slight imperfections, look, really look into your eyes, and love yourself.

You are here now for a reason, and I for one am profoundly grateful that you are here, and that you are aware enough that you are willing to take the next opportunity to try out as the John Denver song goes, ‘Perhaps Love’ as the answer to all our ills and worries. If we can only remember to do this once this week, we are improving the world around us.

Love simply is
God has given each one of us a heart to love. It is through our hearts by which he comes to show love and compassion to the world. As God is generous beyond our imaginings, this gift of love is something we must extend not just to a worthy few, but to everyone regardless of our natural inclination or prejudices or racisms and reasoning to reject or exclude.

We must extend hospitality, compassion and love to those who are easy for us to ignore or dismiss. We must live the Beatitudes that Jesus gave us for they are "The Beatitudes of Love." For love simply is. Love doesn’t need a reason, love doesn’t always rhyme. But what we have got is a heart to love. Simply use it. Simply give love away. We must welcome everyone without discrimination.

Despite our past mistakes, despite our present injustices towards one another, we must welcome each other with love and forgiveness. God turns no one away. This kind of love and hospitality is beyond our comprehension. Why would God squander his love on us? God’s love needs no reason; God’s love doesn’t always rhyme with human reason. God simply is beyond human comprehension. Likewise, it is the same radical hospitality we must extend to everyone, without prejudice, without discrimination. For love doesn’t need a reason.

Value Love
"Once upon a time, there was an island where all the "Feelings" lived: Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all of the others, including Love. One day it was announced to the "Feelings" that the island would sink, so all constructed boats and left. Except for Love. Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to hold out until the last possible moment. When the island had almost sunk, Love decided to ask for help. Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat.

Love said, "Richness, can you take me with you?" Richness answered, "No, I can't. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place here for you." Love decided to ask Vanity who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel. "Vanity, please help me!" "I can't help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered. Sadness was close by so Love asked, "Sadness, let me go with you." "Oh, Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!" Happiness passed by Love, too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her. Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come, Love, I will take you." It was an elder.

So blessed and overjoyed, Love even forgot to ask the elder where they were going. When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Realizing how much was owed the elder, Love asked Knowledge, another elder, "Who Helped me?" "It was Time," Knowledge answered. "Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?" Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how valuable Love is."

Thought for the Week
As your thought for the week, see what act of love you can do or give to someone that might need it most and sometimes it is someone very close to you that needs it! Just do it and live "The Beatitudes of Love"! Seek out opportunities to think about and remember those people who are often forgotten in our world especially those who are elderly, alone, abandoned, orphaned, ill, abused, lost, homeless or living on the edges of our society need our love too. Remember them in your giving, actions, prayers, intentions and meditations. And may God bless you with discomfort, at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships. So that you may live deep within your heart so that you may live out God's Beatitudes of Love! May God bless you with anger, at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people. So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace! May God bless you with tears, to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, homelessness, illness, starvation, abandonment and war. 

So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy!  And may God bless you with enough foolishness, to believe that you can make a difference in this world. So that you can do what others claim cannot be done! Remember that our days are far happier when we give people love from our hearts rather than a piece of our mind! And as the song goes, "Perhaps love is like a resting place, A shelter from the storm. It exists to give you comfort, It is there to keep you warm. And in those times of trouble, When you are most alone. The memory of love will bring you home. Perhaps love is like a window, Perhaps an open door. It invites you to come closer, It wants to show you more. And even if you lose yourself, And don't know what to do. The memory of love will see you through..."

So, remember your relationships will have more meaning if you celebrate God's "Beatitudes of Love" each and every day of the year by showing your love every day! Here is a prayer I love to say now and then when love is the only answer needed - THE LOVE PRAYER - Today I remove all boundaries and walls, Once used as a means of defence, I forgive those things from the darkened past, That in love’s divine realm make no spiritual sense. Releasing all worries, all burdens and doubt, I bring light to the shadows of fear. By centreing myself with a loving thought, Harsh judgments I no longer hear. The greatest experience that life has to give, Is love from an open heart, For it moves me to appreciate all there is, And I’m one with it all, not apart. It’s love that brings me closer to God, And leads me according to God’s way, to live "The Beatitudes of God's Love." For love’s light warms my spirit, it nurtures my soul, And assures me everything is okay. I am one with God and never apart, As I live this day with an open loving heart through God's guiding and loving grace. Amen

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