In my readings for Lent this week, this passage from John Donne (Elizabethan poet and priest) deserves some reflection:
“… faith is no sullen thing, it is not a melancholy, there is not so sociable a thing as the love of Christ Jesus.”
Donne then tells of how the first thing that Andrew did upon finding Jesus the Messiah was to go and get his brother, Peter and bring him to that Messiah.
One of the temptations of Lent is to withdraw too completely, to shield ourselves too well, from those around us. As we make little sacrifices or practice more stringent disciplines they may separate us in some way from the social circles of our lives.
Donne says nothing could be further from true faith in the Christ of the Gospels! The faith of Christ in us will drive us to others and to the love of them. To appropriate a John Wesley expression – “there is no love but sociable.” The true love of Jesus will impel us to love others. It will make us sociable, even when our inclinations are otherwise. Love as action not feeling. Love that sends us to the other and that brings us back again and again to Jesus.
And during what can be a somber time of reflection and preparation, remember that “faith is no sullen thing.” If our faith makes us sullen it is something other than the faith of Christ. May the days to come make us more sociable, more loving as we ponder the One whose death on the cross was, after all, an act of supreme love.