Not surprisingly, a most frequently occurring word in today’s gospel reading is the word “love”, a key word especially in John’s narrative of Jesus’ last hours before his passion, death and resurrection. Somehow, however, our culture has managed to cheapen the use and meaning of that word, as in “love scenes” or “Love Boat”. Love talk is easy and the word “love” can become a handy marketing label.
In my hospital experience I have been witness to many expressions of profound love toward patients, particularly toward those who were losing their battle for recovery. I have seen the tears, the anxiety, the long hours at the patient’s bed side, without the word “love” being even mentioned. But the deeds of love were so eloquently clear, that the word was neither needed nor missed. In the Spiritual Exercises  Ignatius of Loyola reminds us that love is shown in deeds better than in words.
During my teaching years I had in class an engineering student who liked to write poetry, some of which was published. Being a young man, his poems often pivoted on love and in one of them he had two verses that have stayed with me ever since I read them:
Love deeds do give us away, do they not?.
So, how do we know that we love God? In today’s gospel reading Jesus is insistent that the one who loves him will keep his word: deeds. That is how we know. Are our deeds and our lives deeds and lives of love? As the saying goes, love is about walking the walk, not about talking the talk. My favorite quotation from Ralph W. Emerson bears repeating here: “what you do speaks so loudly, that it does not let me hear what you say”. Maybe that is why love is harder to hide when we do love.
For us Jesuits, one of the deeds that reveal to us whether we do love is the deed of remaining available to the Lord for mission, as the Lord’s desire is mediated to us through our religious Superiors. So, much as I have valued contributing to the Daily Reflections over the last five plus years, a new assignment away from Creighton makes this present reflection my last one and I trust that my availability for a new mission is a deed of love. As I bring this one dimension of my ministry to closure, I want to thank Maureen Waldron, who talked me into contributing to the series, and also the many of you, whose feedback I have found quite affirming.
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