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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Divine Love

A few years ago in the midst of my return to the practice of my faith, I was struggling hard, trying to grow in virtue, frustrated at my vices, nearly overcome, realizing how far I had to go. (Actually, I'm still there. Nothing has changed.)

I was spending a lot of time in Adoration, praying, "Dear Jesus, please don't give up on me. Don't ever give up on me, I'm trying!" Some days I'd absolutely be in tears as I begged Jesus not to let me go. I knew where I'd come from and it was a place I never wanted to see again, but I knew the slope is steep and it wouldn't take much before I'd be mired in that pit again.

Then on day at Mass, Father happened to say those exact words of my prayer, and as he was scanning the congregation he seemed to stop and stare directly at me as he said, "God will NEVER give up on you!"

My heart caught in my throat as he continued with this particular gem, as if affirming the words of my prayer, not knowing how desperately I needed to hear what he had to say. Father hadn't heard me praying and he hadn't read my journal, but God doesn't worry about trifles like that; He can speak so directly if He chooses, delivering His messages of love to us through our Priests, through the Sacraments, and through other people He sends into our lives.

The love we experience through others is a reflection of and participation in Divine Love; it is how God has chosen to order the world. Even when we might think we're the only ones experiencing a particular darkness, God can speak to us through others and help us understand we are never alone.

We learn that He pursues us relentlessly, never giving up, for His greatest desire is that we be united to Him for eternity; nothing else is acceptable. It does not matter how far we run, how much we fight him, God will never stop loving us and will never stop his pursuit.

The second reading today addresses this reality:

Rom 8:35, 37-39

Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Our Lord will always pursue us. He will never give up, no matter what we do. Even those afflictions that come upon us can't separate us from Him; He is forever present, and often these sufferings are a very sign of His love.

Even though I write about this, I have a VERY difficult time grasping it. I still look upon the crucifix and think, "I can't possibly be worth THAT!" And from last Sunday (and again this week), the Gospel reading of the Treasure in the Field/Pearl of Great Price, again, I can't imagine that Our Lord would find me of any value whatsoever.

Why would God pursue me? I'm flawed. Worse...I'm worse than flawed. I've never even thought myself to be even REMOTELY attractive in any way, and so that fallen-nature part of me causes me to judge myself according to flawed world standards. God doesn't look at us for our exterior (which, by the way, He created), and God doesn't judge us even according to our flaws, of which we are often the most critical observants. It is our flaws that enacted His compassion. It is our fallen nature that brought Him to be united with our physical reality in order to reunite us to Him for eternity. It is in answer to our most desperate longings that Jesus came to us, decided we were worth it, and took on the ultimate suffering on our behalf.

And He did this for us, individually. From conception, in the Garden, from the Cross, Jesus KNEW us, all, individually, perfectly, and it was in His Divine Love that His blood was shed.

For you. For me.

And I know I'm not the only one who struggles with making this understanding personal.

Yet, we have to believe it. We are called to believe it. We experience it each time we go to Mass...and the more often, the better. Jesus loves us each SO MUCH that He longs for us, He desires that we be united to Him; and that's why He offers himself in the Sacraments, especially that of the Holy Eucharist.

As I had begun this post speaking about how I'd prayed that Our Lord would not give up on me, I can testify that He has not, and I know that He never will. Indeed, He has not only pursued me, but He has surrounded me with others striving to know Him and love Him, and even many with the same doubts as I. It seems that each time I am confronted with doubt, He sends me a friend to share the experience and reveal His love even further.

Each day is an act of trust, and each day contains all the love of God, if we only have the courage to open our eyes and see Him even in the smallest moments.


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Beautiful post...

You are definately not the only one...

Rob said...

So very well said. I too have had those moments when God has answered through someone or something else. It realy strenghthens us. (As well as deliver a tremendous jolt.) But I do know why He pursues our greatly flawed selves. He made us! He loves us! I understand this better now as a parent. It isn't the good we do or the bad we do. He just loves us. Of course that is a whole new subject. How can He love me when I know what I am? That is because He knows what we REALLY are. I have no idea if this ramble even makes any sense now so I will quickly send it before I think about it any more. I love reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

I've come to the conclusion this is a struggle I will have until it's a face-to-face encounter... and I'm 6 feet under!

Anonymous said...

Our priest talked very personally about how he printed this Romans passage out to see everyday, so he could learn to accept it. A whole group of us are really having this message to sink in for us personally also.


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Great post!