Saturday 16 May 2020

Fifth week in Easter

Word for today
The Gospel of John 15:18-21

Love's quality

If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Literally: If from [Greek èk] the world you were, the world its own would love [Greek filèo]; but because from the world you were not, but I have chosen you from the world, for this it hates [Greek misèo] you the world.
The verb used to indicate the love of the world towards those who belong to it is filèo, “befriend, be fond of, have affection for; wish well, show benevolence, kiss (as a sign of affection).” Etymologically filèo goes back to the Akkadian billatu, “stir, confuse; cover, spread on oneself,” belum, “head, lord, master, landlord" and belu, “possess, take for oneself, yoke, manage, hold, take power.” The Hebrew ba’al, from which those words from those, means “lord, master, owner: husband.” Filèo refers to a feeling of benevolence-love towards its own, towards what is owned. It indicates personal attachment, emotional and sentimental predilection, often it refers to the benevolence-friendship feeling as a matter of principle, duty and honesty. Filèo is the verb of kissing as a sign of tenderness and benevolence. Indeed in the Greek world kissing was an exchange between relatives or friends, more than between lovers; it  is a sign of belonging, and of a loving relationship that comes from it. In any case filèo expresses loving affection towards someone, but in a friendship context. It is a preference, it is a placing above.
To refer to utter love, the boundless, endless one, the one without limit, the unreserved, the greatest one, full and whole, the Greek uses a different verb, agapào, “love, welcome with love.” It comes from the ancient Hebrew root hv – from which all the derivates ohav, “delight”, ahavim, “loves”, ahava, “love” – which the Old Testament uses to refer to the concept of love, of overwhelming passion between a man and a woman, of fidelity and friendship towards friends, of cosmic love or of jealous love that chooses its object amongst thousands and prefers it with all its strength and passion. Agapào, from which the adjective agapetòs, “beloved, darling, lovable”, indicates a totally spontaneous, gratuitous love, without any need, demand or expection of anything in return. It is the fruit of free will, it is an inner disposition, an inner way to perceive, to welcome all of reality, which becomes a way of doing and being. In the Gospel love is the new law, the new policy, it is entering into a new way of seeing, it is metànoia.
When the risen Jesus turned to Peter, who had denied Him for three times, and asked:  Simon, son of John, do you love me? (John 21: 15), he used the verb agapào. When Peter answered: Yes, Lord, you know that I love you (John 21:16), he used the verb filèo. The agapào requested by Christ meant, thus, a complete welcome, the filèo answered by Peter was a "befriending," a "wishing well," a "cherishing," as takes place between friends. The world, the human affective system, on its own, without the Spirit's strength, can, at most, offer this kind of love, nothing more than that. The world, the human affective system, does not even know love-agàpe. Jesus chose His disciples to engrave in the world, in the human affective system, a new way of loving, a new way to make love's energy flow from the heart. The ones who will try, despite their own limits and mistakes, to love the way Jesus taught through His procedures, will be misunderstood and hated by the world, by the human affective system: for this the world hates you [Greek misèo]. The verb misèo, “despise, hate, thwart, disregard,” has a very strong connotation, since it refers to the persecution perpetrated with hatred which leads to destruction and subsequent thwarting and forgetfulness. The two original Akkadian verbs, meshu, “hate, despise,” and mashu, “disregard, forget,” attest very well to the Semantic root of that verb. Misèo highlight an irremediable conflict with possible resolution. 
Deciding to let God choose us to engrave in this world a new way of loving, according to the Gospel's procedures means choosing to bear the fruit of wellbeing and happiness, but is also choosing to be judged, condemned, hated and persecuted by the world and its affective system. It is inevitable.