Gospel: John 16:12-15
[Jesus said,] 12“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
Prompted by the death of his family’s dog, Kirby, Andrew Root offers a theological account of the deep relationship between humans and dogs in his new book, “The Grace of Dogs.” After his son, Owen, asks whether he will see Kirby in heaven, Root looks for an answer in the 1928 writings of a young pastoral intern in Barcelona who had faced the same question: Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
One day, a ten-year-old boy came to see Bonhoeffer. Breaking down and crying, the boy explained that his beloved German shepherd, Mr. Wolf, had just died. The boy sobbed as he told the story, but soon his tears stopped and he asked Bonhoeffer, with deep intensity, “Tell me now, Herr Bonhoeffer, will I see Mr. Wolf again? He is surely in heaven?”
Bonhoeffer explained in a letter to a friend that he was dumbfounded. He didn’t know what to say. Never before had one of his astute professors or gifted fellow students made such an inquiry, a question that Bonhoeffer could see meant so much to this grieving boy.
Bonhoeffer sat with the boy, feeling small next to his important question. Clearly Mr. Wolf had meant so much to the boy. The overly confident protégé, who had always been told he had a brilliant answer for every theological question, now sat humbled by the boy’s love for his dead dog.
Finally, turning to the boy, Bonhoeffer said, “Well, we know you loved Mr. Wolf, and we know that God loves you. And we know that God loves all the animals. So, yes, yes, I think you will indeed see Mr. Wolf in heaven, for I believe that God loses nothing that God loves.”
God loses nothing that God loves.
Bonhoeffer’s point was that when persons relate in love, it is an eternal act that transcends biology, chemistry, and history. Only love lasts forever.
Let us pray. Almighty God of love. We love because you ARE love. In sure and certain hope of that love, may we trust you today, and hope in you for tomorrow. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen