“There never was a time, O God of Love, when your mind and your heart were not concerned about me.” (St. J. Eudes)
That is one powerful sentence! It bears deeper reflection. I cannot fathom this kind of pure, selfless love. How could this God of ours truly be concerned for little old sinful me? Or, for any one of the billions of humans who have occupied this planet. St. John Eudes makes a bold claim here and further writes,
“With God, there is neither past nor future, and everything has always been before him as present and visible in his eternal light. He cast his divine gaze upon me from all eternity; he looked upon me with the eye of mercy; he thought of me tenderly and ardently; he disposed and ordained, with wonderous kindness, everything that was to happen to me in body and soul and in every circumstance, development, and event of my existence and life, even to the hairs on my head.”
This should take our breath away. It sure did mine. “From all eternity,” not just since our birth. It is really hard to wrap our minds around this concept of being loved before we ever existed, presently, or despite our sinfulness.
There was “never a time” when God was not concerned for us.
Never? We humans can be so fickle about who we love and for how long. How many chances do we give someone before we give up on them and withdraw our love? Is there hope for redemption and reconciliation if someone ever crosses “that line” we have established? Our love, unlike God’s, is often generous…but only to a point. I am guilty of this when I really think about it. We measure and count and weigh the limits of our love.
Not so with God. Selfishness is the enemy of love.
Many times, over the years when I have met with couples who are having marriage difficulties, most of it can be chalked up to a failure to love their spouse properly.
Loving as God loves is impossible without God.
St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “Love to be real, it must cost-it must hurt- it must empty us of self.” There is no room for ego in love. Ego protects and promotes self above all others. There is no room for “me, me, me” in a marriage. It is no longer about “me, but we.” The same could be true of our relationship with God. It is not about us. God first. Always. Whether convenient, frustrating, or easy. “Thy will be done.”
Our God does not require much from his distracted children. Love Him, and love our neighbor. Why the whole “love thy neighbor” thing? Basically, there is nothing we can do for God. He is complete in all that he is. He needs nothing from us. He has deigned that our neighbor is the channel whereby we can grow in grace, virtue, and holiness. It starts first with our own relationship with God, flows into our marriage and family and should branch out like the mustard plant from there. Our brothers and sisters and neighbors are the frustrating, nerve-wracking, weirdos the Lord has placed in our midst to practice love. And we are that for them as well. Jesus himself said in Matt 25:40,
“What you do for the least of my brethren, you do for me.”
But why can’t we just love you Jesus? I’ve tried being nice with old cranky Hank, he is insufferable. Yet, he is the person God in his wisdom has placed on your path to grow in patience, love, and generosity. Ugh! Does that apply to my co-workers, roommates, and local politician? Yes. “But it is so hard to love them, you don’t know what they have put me through.” This is true, but God knows. He also knows that the way we treat the people hardest to deal with helps them now and helps us get to heaven.
We were driving to Costco and through a series of events, ended up taking a way that we would not normally take. We stopped for the red light and I was looking south out my passenger window. Something caught my attention. Something that should not have been there. It took a minute to figure out that I was looking at a body of someone, partially clothed, laying face down in the rocks near the shrubbery. I had to ask Mark if he was seeing the same thing. We watched and there seemed to be no sign of breathing. We called 911 to investigate. I asked for a call back, so I had some information. When the officer returned my call, he indicated that it was a woman and that she would “not have lasted another day out there.” They were transporting her to the hospital. I thanked him for his service and time.
How long had she been out there? It was record heat that day. How many people drove through that intersection without noticing her lying there? How many did notice and did nothing?
I cannot get the image out of my head. What is her story? Was she loved? Did she have any idea of the immense love that God has for her? Whose little girl, was she? Does anyone miss her at all?
These times have been hard on everyone, but especially devastating to those who had little to start with or live for. Obviously, I do not know her situation. I may never know what happened, how she ended up where she was or how things might be different in her future. I know right now she is in a hospital bed, getting necessary fluids and medication. I do not know what tomorrow brings for her or the days after. We are praying for her and that might be the only tangible thing we can do.
“There never was a time, O God of Love, when your mind and your heart were not concerned about me.”
Her Father in heaven loves her, but that does not mean anything if every other human that she encounters does not. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. How do we prove to the marginalized, atheists, or haters of Christians that there is a God who loves them, cares for them, and wants to be with them in paradise for eternity?
We show them.
We live this conviction even in the nastiest, most ungrateful, situations and people. Because that is what Christ would do. Living our faith is more than simply just saying we are “Catholic.”
Being a follower of Christ, a Catholic Christian, is an action.
It is being Christ now in the present. It means looking at how we spend our money, what we support, how we love another and how we vote; which must line up with Catholic moral teaching. All lives matter. All souls matter. Authentic love is bigger than our differences.
Authentic sacrificial love is not a doormat, it is a welcome mat.
The world will change when we ourselves change. We must be countercultural and that is uncomfortable and puts us in the crosshairs. It puts a target on our back, and potentially labels us. If my label is Catholic Christian, then I am good with that.
I will say this, amidst all this crazy talk to “defund” police, I vehemently disagree. Thank you on behalf of that woman whose life you may have saved. Thank you for doing your job in a prompt and professional way. Most Americans see the sacrifice you are making for us all, and we are grateful.
We are praying for you and your families.
We are praying for the situations and people that you respond to, and we are grateful to you for the jobs you do. No one deserves to be disrespected because of the poor conduct of another in their profession. Not the good priests, or teachers, or coaches, who often get lumped together with the bad seeds.
Matthew Kelly writes that, “Our lives will change when our habits change.” Let’s start a love revolution.