“I hold this against you, though, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember, then, from where you have fallen. Convert and do the works you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4-5)
A conversion to young love. That is the urgent, perennial challenge to the Christian.
All that filled our hearts when we first really saw the goodness of the Lord, or that fills us anew when that goodness comes to us, at odd times, in a loving smile, in kindness received or witnessed, in the presence of a sacrificial heart that conquers in capsizing, in the variable wonders of nature, in the deep nourishment of high culture: these glories are too strong to stay in time. So sometimes it’s hard to remember what it’s like to be in love.
For the rest of the Easter season in the breviary, we will hear from Saint John, in his letters and in the Apocalypse (the Revelation) given to him.
In today’s reading, Jesus instructs John to write first to the church that would have been his see, the church at Ephesus, where he carried out Jesus’ command to take care of Our Lady.
And that letter to Ephesus is an appeal to fall in love again.
Love, in its every manifestation, should tend towards being first love. “Love one another”: we should be powered by the brimming gratitude that would master the engines of the world so that we might do for every neighbor and for the world, in the power of God, what the Father’s goodness given us in the Spirit of Jesus has done for us. We would share the joy of Christian faith, excel at friendship, reconcile with those who've hurt us, bring back the dead, shield the babies and the elderly, ward the innocence of children, give hope to addicts, destroy the sex trade, teach truth out of aching mercy, bring our wealth to the starving and the unsheltered and the disease-ridden, emancipate minds and hearts in the grandeur of the liberal arts and of Christian civilization, rebuild this republic, slay the monsters of terrorism and tyranny.
And yet we also know worldly power cannot be mastered from within time. Love would attempt it all, again and again, even while recognizing, deep down, the inevitability of failure. Where is the church of Ephesus now?
Ours it is, in any case, to be the lampstand that is not removed.
First love is reckless, and somehow love manages to open a future because it is reckless. For One did not reck the rood, and thus all power has been given to Him. His Kingdom is coming. The revolutionary fire of history is love. Are we there at the renovation of the ages?