Love Is Stronger than Death
Thursday, May 11, 2017
I believe the meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus is summed up in the climactic line from the Song of Songs, “Love is stronger than death” (8:6). If the blank white banner that the Risen Christ usually holds in Christian art should say anything, it should say: “Love will win!” Love is all that remains. Love and life are finally the same thing, and you know that for yourself once you have walked through death.
Love has you. Love is you. Love alone, and your deep need for love, recognizes love everywhere else. Remember that you already are what you are seeking. As Paul states, any fear “that your lack of fidelity could cancel God’s fidelity, is absurd” (Romans 3:3-4). Love can finally overcome fear, and your house will be rebuilt on a new and solid foundation. This foundation was always there, but it takes a long time to find that “It is love alone that lasts” (1 Corinthians 13:13). All you have loved in your life and been loved by are eternal and true. That is why it is very good theology to believe that your dogs, cats, and horses will be with you in heaven. (It will not be heaven if my recently deceased black Lab, Venus, is not there with me!)
Two of the primary metaphors of final salvation are Noah’s ark (Genesis 6-9) and “the Peaceable Kingdom” (Isaiah 11:6-9). Interestingly enough, both are filled with images of animals—as worth saving and as representative of paradise regained. Note that God’s covenant with Noah is with “every living creature” and not just with humans. For some reason, some Evangelical Christians who say they believe the Bible, don’t like that! Yet it’s said four times in a row (Genesis 9:8-17). I guess none of us are completely consistent.
My fellow Franciscan Friar, Father Jack Wintz, has written a theologically solid book on why we can consider all things loved, loving, and lovable as participating in eternity, including animals.  What made us think humans were the only ones who love and are lovable? If unconditional love, loyalty, and obedience are the tickets to an eternal life, then Venus is surely there long before me, along with all the dear wild animals who care for their young at great cost to themselves—and accept their fate far better than most humans. When I had to make the very painful decision to put Venus to sleep on March 30 this year, she literally put her two black paws straight in front of her, stared at me, slowly bowed her head straight to the ground and died. I hope I will die with such trustful surrender.
Gateway to Silence:
Alleluia, alleluia, amen!
 Jack Wintz, Will I See My Dog in Heaven? (Paraclete Press: 2009).
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 178-179.