There is nothing you can ever do to make God love you less. Nothing.
This is very hard for us human creatures to wrap our heads around. A love so generous we can’t do anything to lessen it. Jesus came to make this point perfectly and tangibly obvious through His life and death. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15:11-32), Jesus illustrates this love in a brilliant, multifaceted story that not only affected His listeners back then, but should rock our world today.
I’ve heard this parable for over fifty-five years. There have been countless sermons, commentaries, and articles, to tease out the nuances of the parable and help us find deeper meaning. Yet at times, I can still fall into the trap of thinking it impossible for God to continue to love me, a habitual sinner and screw up extraordinaire. I am grateful for God’s abundant, patient, and ineffable love.
I recall hearing a speaker at a Catholic conference once answering questions. Someone asked why Jesus had to go through the Crucifixion. “If only a drop of His Precious Blood would have been enough, wouldn’t a paper cut have sufficed?” I hear this question from time to time myself, and was interested in what the speakers had to say. “God doesn’t just do the minimum, His love is extravagant” In choosing to die in the most cruel and heinous way Christ did, He left no doubt about the length He would take for love of you and I. Loving us with an infinite, unconditional love, He then stretched out His arms and proved it. “Man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:13)
Had you ever thought of the crucifixion in this way before? Love to the extreme. Freely given, freely chosen. He was no hapless victim here. I often will point to the Crucifix on the wall in my office, and tell couples preparing for marriage, that “this is what real love looks like.” If that doesn’t scare them away, nothing will. It is a perspective we all need to ponder everyday but especially during this Easter Octave.
This leads me to the other “nothing” I want to elaborate on. Nothing happens outside of God’s Providential knowledge. Nothing.
I remember reading this quote from Monsignor Giussani, that impacted me deeply and has stayed with me especially in those moments when nothing seems to make any sense at all. “Nothing I experience is useless; not even one second is in vain…because everything is for His plan.”
I just passed the five year anniversary, of when I unexpectedly was hit by a car. I know I have spent a lot of time pondering that very statement. Had I not the faith and trust that God was using this seemingly senseless event for good reason, something like that, could have caused great bitterness and anger in my life.
Nothing is coincidental, karma, or even random. Nothing. Take that perception and apply it to the many moments in your life that appear meaningless. When things go south, blow up in our faces, or just hurt like crazy, try and remember that God has a purpose in it. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
So “nothing” after all, is really in fact, something. It is not a void, wasted time, or deficiency, but perhaps just a Divine mystery we need to ponder deeper in each situation. Like all mysteries, time will reveal, in hindsight, or bits and pieces, God’s greater purpose.
These mysteries I believe, are also opportunities for us to practice letting go of our perceived control over life, and learning to surrender and trust in the Love that never ends, as we patiently await to be amazed at the work God is doing in the place we call “nothing.”