"God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:5)
It is Sunday and as Sunday is the beginning of a new week, and the first day of the rest of our lives, thought it would be good to post on the most foundational truth we need to absorb, and believe with all of our hearts.
Christopher O'Donnell, in Life In The Spirit and Mary wrote:
The fundamental truth of God's personal love for each one of us is a necessary foundation for any spiritual growth whether a person is enmeshed in sin or growing in higher states of prayer, it will be a necessary support for advancement.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . . . " (James 1:17a)
We know this is true that all the gifts we have, from existence, free will, our families, the gift of faith, hope, and also even the obstacles to faith and hope are gifts coming down from the Father. The obstacles aren't always what we would call good and perfect, but they too are gifts.
Sometimes we are dealt a blow, and usually it is a series of blows in life that clouds us to the most beautiful of all realities, God is Love, and God Loves Me.
Today, hear God telling you, "I love you, (insert your name here). You know this is true, but do you really understand it? Ask me to help you understand it."
Pope Benedict XVI wrote two of the most beautiful paragraphs in print on this most essential truth of our existence, our past, our present, and our future in the Introduction to his Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love):
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”.
We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should ... have eternal life” (3:16). In acknowledging the centrality of love, Christian faith has retained the core of Israel's faith, while at the same time giving it new depth and breadth. The pious Jew prayed daily the words of the Book of Deuteronomy which expressed the heart of his existence: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might” (6:4-5). Jesus united into a single precept this commandment of love for God and the commandment of love for neighbor found in the Book of Leviticus: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18; cf. Mk 12:29-31). Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.
If I really believe and rejoice in this personal love of God for me, it is motivating. I want to show God's love, God's goodness, Christ's meekness and strength to those connected to my life.
We who have been grasped by the love of God in the person of Christ Jesus, Our King, want to respond by cooperating with the grace and work of the Holy Spirit in us to draw others to Him.
How has the truth that God is Love and God loves You been the starting point for a new life in the Holy Spirit, where you are filled with joy to say, "Jesus is Lord"?
If you don't yet have that joy in your heart, and you can't seem to believe in this truth, what is in your way?
When Jesus taught the crowds, and when he talked to individuals we read how his teaching and his presence makes a deep impression on them. Many times crowds forgot about the essentials of food to stay and hear him teach. We read about some cutting a hole through the roof of where he was so they could get their paralyzed friend to him to be healed. Miraculous conversions occurred, like we hear in the conversion of Zacchaeus. The Gospels are filled with people either coming to Jesus or him coming to them, for example the woman at the well, and they are not the same afterwards.
Fr. Bartunek had a great take on this:
"Whether we realize it or not, in our hearts we yearn for God, and so when we come into contact with someone close to God, our hearts are moved. When the crowds came into contact with Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, their hearts burst with astonished joy."
Part of that explains why it is so easy to love Mary! She is so close to God, our hearts are moved! It is also why I can read some of your blog posts and comments and my heart is moved. You are writing out of hearts that are filled with God, and in response to the love you have been shown.
For those of you that rejoice that God is love and God loves you personally, I hope you will be encouraged in your calling to continue spreading that love and your gift of faith in all the ways God provides you the opportunity.
For those who want to believe, consider that if you are looking to be reassured of God's love, it is really in response to him reaching out to you. Also please consider that not once in the Gospels was there a person that turned to Jesus, that he did not help.
Jesus always wills to HEAL us. Some of us may need physical cures, or want physical cures for others. This may or may not be willed. This isn't always easy, and is sometimes upsetting. We want to yell out, "Hey Jesus, you healed the blind men, the paralytic, the leper, the mother-in-law, why not me? You raised several people from the dead, why not this person? You love them too, right?"
I am not God, and I am not adequate to answer questions like that in a satisfying way. I do believe with everything in me that a) God does love you in a more profound, and infinitely wonderful way than you will be able in this life to comprehend, b) I am confident that if you turn to Jesus and ask him, Jesus will heal you on the inside--in your heart and in your mind. The key thing is to acknowledge your need for him, and come to him in confidence and humility, and then I am confident he will heal you.
If you want to read more about why you can be confident in God's Care of you, please look here.