Faces on Faith: Embraced in love
The glory of Easter has passed. Today life can feel like a simmering stew of anger, hostility and vitriol.
Christian Science Monitor writer John Yemma, in a recent article, reminds us of a quality or condition available to everyone which has proved to ease anxiety, stress, even illness.
This substance is “philia”, which is generally called “brotherly love”. It is explained in C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves , in which he describes “philia” as the rarest of loves because it promotes affection, friendship, companionability and sociability.
This kind of unconditional love which we all crave is best illustrated in the familiar parable of the Prodigal Son.
In the allegory, a father has two sons. When the younger son requests his inheritance, he takes it and spends it on riotous living. In a state of near starvation, the wayward son returns to his father’s house, prepared to be treated simply as a servant.
But his father greets him with outstretched arms and orders shoes for his feet, clothes him in the best robe and puts a ring on his finger. As the fatted calf is killed and the whole house is celebrating, the home-staying son returns and is furious to find his wayward brother being honored. When he angrily asks his father, he is told: “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine”.
So both sons are embraced in that pure love.
A statement in the Christian Science textbook Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy expands on this theme: “The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle or Father, and blessed is that man who seeeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good.
Love giveth to the least spiritual idea might, immortality and goodness, which shine through all as the blossom shines through the bud.”
Jesus’ parable tenderly teaches us that God’s boundless love for His children is always embracing each of us. So each time you stop to let a car in line, offer support to a mother struggling with a difficult child, or give a neighbor a helping hand, you’re experiencing “philia” and are crowned with its grace.