Say it – and then say it again
Kate Barrett | Thursday, April 15, 2010
OK, so my teenage son convinced me to start watching “Chuck” on Monday nights a while back, and now I am unfortunately hooked on this comedy/spy thriller/mystery/romance. Chuck himself has become quite an endearing character, so you’re always rooting for things to go his way, especially when he’s trying to woo the impossibly attractive girl spy away from her impossibly handsome boyfriend-spy. A couple of Mondays ago, Chuck finally confesses his love for the beautiful and talented (if you consider expertise as a spy a talent) Sarah. He tells her that he loves her, and then he says, “Once more, just because it felt so nice the first time; I love you.”
Now that you’re sure someone at The Observer dropped this column into the Faithpoint spot by accident, I’d like to propose that we take a tip from Chuck and tell somebody (or a few somebodies) that we love them. Then say it again because it’ll feel so nice. Tell your parents; tell your friends; tell the brother or sister you’ve been squabbling with for years; if you have a spouse and kids, tell them every day. And every day in your prayer, tell the Lord Jesus that you love him.
This is the time of year when we’re hearing every day, and especially on Sundays, in Scripture passages from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John about all the wonderful ways that Jesus’ resurrection begins transforming the world, from the very moment the apostles and the women discover the empty tomb. Of all the times the risen Jesus Christ appears to the apostles, befuddling and amazing them, one of my favorite exchanges comes when Jesus, having just cooked up a big seaside breakfast, turns to Simon Peter and asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Now this may seem like a stretch, but if you’ve ever seen “Chuck,” wouldn’t you agree that Simon Peter possesses some very Chuck-like qualities? Aren’t you rooting for him in the Gospels, even though he’s prone to embarrassing mistakes, lapses of judgment and even flat-out cowardice? As I said, I find this scene from John’s Gospel quite compelling, precisely because Peter finally gets to tell Jesus he loves him. After his painful, humiliating denials in Jesus’ moments of greatest need, Peter must have felt overwhelmingly relieved to be able to say — three times — “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
As simple as “I love you” is to say, it’s always filled with a thousand meanings. Maybe that’s why many of us don’t say it as often as we should. When we tell someone we love them, we may also mean, as Peter did, ” … and I’m so very sorry, and I hope you can forgive me;” or we mean, “… and I can’t even express my thanks for your awe-inspiring generosity and love…” such as when we tell our parents that we love them; or we mean, ” … even though you can’t always tell by the way I treat you …” such as when we tell, say, our siblings or our roommates.
When we pray we may not always think of taking some of that prayer time to express our love to God. We may spend time reflecting on Scripture, or on the gift of the Eucharist, or on our needs or fears or petitions, but do we simply stop and say “I love you” to the Lord? When we tell Jesus we love him, as Peter did, we express our deep faith and trust in him, because chances are he will say to us as he said to Peter, “Follow me.” Living out our love for Christ every day means just that: following him.
As we approach the end of the semester and all the many new stages of life that will begin for each of us in the coming weeks, think of those whom you love, especially those you haven’t told lately. Whether the depths of your “I love you” will contain apology, gratitude, joy, commitment, faith, passion or –– most likely — some combination of several of these, it’s worth saying. And tell the risen Christ, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Then, just because it’ll feel so nice, say it again.
This week’s FaithPoint was written by Kate Barrett, director of the Emmaus program in Campus Ministry. She can be reached at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.