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achainheartsIn the early morning sunshine, everything feels pristine to me. Perhaps it’s the 12 hours of sleep I had after the sedation of yesterday began to wear off that has given me new energy. (Mission accomplished, by the way: 6 tiny polyps removed so I’m good to go for 5 years.) It’s one of those days when I wake up feeling motivated to love everyone and face everything with a smile. Sometimes that feeling even lasts all day!

Today, wrapped in those good vibrations, I read an exhortation in the first letter of Peter that fit what I was feeling and gave me pause (1 PT 1:18-25). It says: Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love, love one another intensely from a pure heart. It always interests me that translation and even different editions of the same translation (here the New American Bible) can make such a difference in impact even though the meanings are essentially the same. Had I been reading my personal Bible {(c) 1970} instead of the lectionary readings for this date on http://www.usccb.org, I would have found that verse to say: By obedience to the truth, you have purified yourselves for a genuine love of your brothers; therefore, love one another constantly from the heart. There are really only three slight differences in the two texts – all of them adjectives. In the first clause, the modifiers of love (sincere and genuine) are virtually synonymous and at the end of the text Peter emphasizes his point in the newer edition by adding that we must function from a pure heart. The one word that first caught my attention, however, and still remains the “hook” for me is the difference in how we are to love one another. Although I can see the possibility of being fairly constant in my love for others, intensely is generally reserved for a special few.

This may sound like a ridiculous attempt for me to have something to say and probably is a result of my years as a language teacher doing textual analysis, but I think there is some merit in looking more closely if it is even one word that sparks a response in us. Monastics have been doing this kind of lectio divina (sacred reading) for centuries. If I can apply the intensity of love that I know toward God as I am outside working on this glorious day or sharing Eucharist on a special feast to all that I meet no matter where or why, the depth of my life will certainly be more in concert with “obedience to the truth” than if I simply try at all times to remember the command of Jesus to love one another. That statement certainly implies a growing intensity if we add the follow-on of as I have loved you, so maybe I am just whistling in the wind. The message, it seems, can be found anywhere if we really look. So let us today determine to love all of our sisters and brothers constantly and intensely – just as God loves us!