6th Sunday-Easter-B-May 10, 2015
Acts 10:25-26,34- 35,44-48; Ps 98; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17
LEAP OF LOVE: STORGOS TO AGAPE
♥ Storge (στοργή) or storgos means “affection” in ancient and modern Greek. It is natural affection, bond, attraction, and feeling of attachment to someone or something. While social psychology has attached other meanings to it, we shall treat storge in only in its basic meaning, the natural caring with affection in a humane way innate to each human being. It is instinctive, like eros. Animals exhibit this. And we, as rational animals, are models of human storge, as we clearly see, for example, in parents’ love for their children and vice-versa. But how important is this storge love for our personhood?
♥ STORGE STUDY
In 1952, in a South American orphanage, Dr. Rene A. Spitz observed and recorded what happened to 97 children who were deprived of emotional and physical contact with others.
Because of a lack of funds, there was not enough staff to adequately care for these children, ages 3 months to 3 years old. Nurses changed diapers and fed and bathed the children. But there was little time to hold, cuddle, and talk to them as a mother would.
Dr. Spitz observed, “If between the 6th and 18th month of life, the infant is deprived of its mother without adequate substitute, its development becomes retarded in the course of the first two months of separation. It becomes increasingly unapproachable, weepy and screaming.”
“In the 3rd month of separation the withdrawal of the child becomes complete, the infant assumes the pathognomonic position, (that is, it starts to exhibit symptoms of a disease), its expression becomes increasingly rigid, the developmental level regresses.
“Infants deprived of their mothers during the first year of life for more than five months deteriorate progressively. They become lethargic, (or inactive,) their motility retarded (that is, their mental imagery as regards their positions or bodily movements is slow), their weight and growth arrested. Their face becomes vacuous, (or blank); their activity is restricted to atypical, bizarre finger movements. They are unable to sit, stand, walk or talk.”
“In 37.3% of the cases observed, the progressive deterioration of the total personality led eventually to marasmus, (which means the progressive wasting of the body), and death by the end of the second year of life.”
♥ TWO TYPES OF RELATIONSHIPS
1 º Functional Relationships
√ functions define “who” and “how” of the relationship. Teachers-teach, Doctors-heal…
√ relationships end when functions terminate.
√ may be mutually beneficial but not necessarily marked by intense personal sensitivity and personal relating; impersonal too at times;
● Storgos-eros, at the least, usually power these relations: some families are perceived or structured around this – especially those whose maturity end in “independence.” The goal is not just independence! It is achieving a sense or spirit of interdependence among the family members.
2º Personal Relationships
√ But from these functional relations do come some of the best friendships we have: high school classmates, family members, family doctors,etc. These are relationships created through a personal choice to step out from storgos-eros into philia or to agape stages. Personal choice is what spells the leap!
♥ THE STORGOS DECEPTIONS
Remember that storge is a natural affection, instinctive and simply basically an attraction to people and things. When I say “I love this restaurant,” or “I love this chair,” or this office; or when I say “I love my profession,” or “I love my country, and I’m ready to die for it.” That’s at the least, the storgic kind of love! But don’t be fooled! It is not enough for Christian standards.
It is functional, useful, and in fact, already a God given grace. Sometimes, it can wear the mask of person-to-person one-to-one relationship marked by intense passion. We should be thankful that we all have this natural love. But like in the parable of the talents, you just don’t bury that grace and come back to God with nothing more than a storge in your heart!
♥ THE GOSPEL OF THE LEAP OF LOVE
In today’s gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “I no longer call you slaves, I have called you friends.” No, it wasn’t that He treated them like slaves at first. Rather, He was referring to how the OT people like Moses, Joshua and David, were called “servants” or “slaves of Yahweh,” doing what God wills even without a clear picture of what God does or plans, “what the Master is about.” Jesus elevates their functional Teacher-Student relationship with Him to an Agape-friendship love kind by calling them friends. Hey, that’s one big leap! When He said this, Jesus was alluding to Abraham, the universal father of the faithful, remembering perhaps that He was a descendant of Abraham through Isaac. Only Abraham was called a “friend of God” because of his intimate relationship with God which was manifested through obedience.
Aha! Obedience is the mark of intimate friendship with God. That is why Jesus says, “You are My friends, if you do what I command you.” Loving Obedience is the heart of the 8th Sacrament, the Sacrament of Friendship.
If all of life is relationships, then Sacramental Friendship is what defines our Christian life. And each Christian is a Sacrament! Obviously, storge is not enough to bring you to the Circle of Friendship with Jesus!
We are challenged to allow ourselves to be moved by God’s Hand from eros/ storgos to Communion love!
So the key to take that leap of love, is in obeying our Friend’s Command, simply to love one another (Jn 13: 34; 1 Jn 4:7). Sounds simple, right? But this command has many translations:
√ Accept one another (Rom 15: 7).
√ Be hospitable to one another (1 Pt 4:9).
√ Be kind to one another (Eph 4:32).
√ Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21).
√ Bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).
√ Build one another up (Rom 14:19; 1Thes 3:12-13; Eph 4:15-16).
√ Comfort one another (1 Thes 4:18).
√ Confess your faults to one another and be healed (Jms 5:16).
√ Do not judge one another (Rom 14:13).
√ Employ God’s gifts for one another (1 Pt 4:10).
√ Encouraging one another (Heb 10:25).
√ Forbear one another (Eph 4:2; Col 3:13).
√ Forgive one another (Eph 4: 32; Col 3:13; Jn 20:23).
√ Instruct and admonish one another (Rom 15:14; Col 3:16).
√ Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another (Mk 9:50).
√ Live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16, 15:5; Col 3:15).
√ Serve one another (Gal 5:13; Jn 13:14).
√ Show concern for one another (1 Cor 12:25).
√ Speak the truth to one another (Eph 4:25).
√ Stir one another up to love and good works (Heb 10:24).
√ And don’t forget to Listen to one another from your heart!
Christian Catholic spirituality is a Trinitarian spirituality of “one another” – a deep spirituality of relationships rooted in the Agape-Communion Love (Pananahan) of God.
♥ Take that leap now and translate Jesus’ Friendship in your Life!
Happy Mother’s Day!