By Br Ryan Harkins
Holy Week is a love story between God and his people.
If you have ever done the “Strengths Finder” test you know that there are around thirty-four strengths that are offered and they say that these strengths cover about every kind of strength a person might have. One of the strengths I like very much is called “Woo.”
“Woo” stands for “Wining others over” but if you were to look at the definition of “woo” it is that of seeking the affection of someone else. So it’s not so much “a winning over” but rather a trying to win over another to one’s own self. This is God for us.
God is constantly wooing us to himself so that we become his and so partake in the divine mystery of love that he wants for us. We are created in his image and likeness and since he is the very essence of Love, we as his creatures find our meaning to existence in loving as he loves.
In the musical “Les Miserables” we find an example of God’s love and God’s “wooing” us to himself through a song worth paying extra attention to. Not so much for the lyrics themselves, but the inner reality taking place within the characters.
E’ponine has a love for Marius, she’s constantly giving to him, showing him left and right all these signs by which she wants to engage in a intimate relationship with him. But Marius doesn’t seem to notice this love at all and only lives his relationship with her on the level of friendship and nothing more. This destroys E’ponine over and over again every time it’s made obvious to her that the relationship will never be anything more than a friendship between them, but she doesn’t give up, all the more she continues to give of herself to him out of love. Her hope is that something will change within him and that he will be hers and she will be his forever.
One fine day another girl walks by Marius and he’s absolutely taken back by her beauty, he quickly falls head over in love with her and runs to E’ponine for help to find out who this girl is and to take him to her immediately. One can only imagine E’ponine’s reaction to this, the one that she thought she would be is now the one she is leading him to have and be with forever.
Again there are things that words just cannot justify. Alone she walks within herself and belts out this poem of inner joy and suffering based upon her pretending and the reality she lives. After facing once more this new truth, she concludes with the following: “Even though I know that he will never love me in the way or the degree in which I love him, I will still love him and give myself to him.” She sings this clear from the depths of her being and would even go to the extreme of living it out, by literally giving her life to save his.
Now I’m watching this saying, “Are you kidding me! Let it go, why on earth would she invest so much time, thought, and energy into something she knows is never going to happen? Why does she love him so much when he is doing nothing to gain that love or show her that he loves her in the least bit?” And after some reflection, it dawned on me that this type of love is the same love by which God loves us.
Here we are utterly spoiled by his love for us over and over each waking day; he’s constantly trying to speak to us in our hearts and we become so blind to it. He’s giving of himself constantly and we keep our distance from him, politely saying “let’s just be friends and nothing more”. How badly this hurts him, how much pain and personal anguish we put him through by never wanting to take this relationship with him to a deeper, more intimate relationship. And one fine day we find for ourselves a new love, the addictions for money, power, alcohol, lust, porn, gossip, styles, etc., win us over, they walk in front of us and we’re totally sold by them. We become obsessed for these new passing loves and sell all we have for them. The Lord in his goodness allows us to be free, but at the same time He cries: “Are you kidding me! See how much I’ve done for you, I’ve given to you; all these many ways I’ve proved my love for you and you sell me for what will never satisfy.” But then he says: “OK, even though I know that you will never love me as much as I love you, I will love you and prove that love for you by giving myself for you, by dying for you.” And he does…
Eponine is a special character in this musical, not for her obsession over Marius, but for the example of love that she gave him.
This same love is the love of the Father for mankind. Eponine knows how to love in that way because she has it stamped in her very being as a creature of God, made in the image and likeness of he who is Love. God is constantly “wooing” us to himself, may we learn from this example to both give and receive this same type of love that God has for us.