For those who are news-weary it is always wonderful to discover an uplifting story about true love. Sometimes it is about a couple who have been married for upwards of 50 years, or perhaps it tells of two people who found each other again after being separated for almost a lifetime; at other times it is a story of heroic friendship. Whichever it is, stories of true love usually concern two people who make a commitment, whether through a covenant or friendship, and do everything they can do to uphold it. Of course, we know that the people involved are far from perfect, but that it is in their willingness to bring out the best in one another and to work together during challenges that they are able to persevere despite their individual imperfections. All of this takes a lot of work over time, but through it all, love will grow richer and deeper as the two people grow. It is no different in our most important relationship, the one we have with God, in which it is necessary to develop our commitment through time spent with Him learning to hear and discern, grow in graces, ask forgiveness and to accept mercy offered. God thirsts for us in ways we cannot imagine. That is, He wants nothing less than our heart.
Much has been written about how to develop a greater commitment to God and how to foster advancement in the spiritual life. The basics involve prayer, study, the Sacraments, keeping the Commandments, and working on humility, service, and love. However, rather than to emphasize our part, let’s reflect upon how God loves us. First, we must recognize that only God is capable of the true and perfect love of agape to which Jesus still wants us to aspire. That is, we can grow in love in incredible ways, but we will not love in the profoundly mysterious, complete way God does. This is not to say we should give up; on the contrary, growing in holiness and the spiritual life is our call and certainly God would not call us in this way if we had no chance at growth. While God’s mercy and forgiveness are greater than anything we can offer, His love is the basis of our inspiration to grow in love for Him in return.
To begin, let’s reflect upon the incomparable, unfathomable true love God gives. Above all, this is found in the Eucharist from which all other Sacraments flow. The Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus is available through the greatest act of mercy and love ever offered. Every time we receive it, Jesus says, “I love you.” He wants us to rest in that love, opening our hearts to Him. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, through the absolution spoken by the priest, God says, “I am so glad you came, letting my mercy wipe clean the barriers and dirt that have accumulated. My child, I love you!” Likewise, the water of Baptism is the water of love. Though we may not have been able to ‘hear’ God’s voice with our ears, our hearts certainly heard: “My child, I love you.” When we read the Scriptures, every word and action of God contained there is God’s means of saying, “My children, I did all this because I love you.” When we go to Him in personal prayer and adoration, God says, “Thank you for wanting to spend time with me. I love you.” And finally as we grow in trust and the ability to see God in every stone, in every bit of nature, in people we encounter, that is, as we grow in holiness, we will better know it is God saying “I love you.” This includes the times of trouble, suffering, toil and pain: the more we learn to see and hear the ways God offers His love, the more we will recognize that He is with us especially in the most difficult of times.
The name of true love is God. St. John expresses this eloquently: “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might have life through Him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins…. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”(Full passage, 1 John 4:7-16) Further, St. Paul tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love: “...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.” (Full passage Romans 8:28-39)
Let us pray with these and all of the passages of Scripture that speak to our hearts of God’s love. It is important that we consider the gifts that He offers daily, particularly those found in the liturgy, the Sacraments (especially Eucharist), in the lives of the saints, our brothers and sisters who are examples of the love of Christ, and through beauty. It is important that we learn to see and hear because God wants nothing less for us. It is in acknowledging His love that we will be inspired to grow in returning love, not as obligation, and not even due to our gratitude, (though that is important), but because our hearts are so overflowing with love for God, that we want nothing less than His Heart!
May we become more aware of the true and perfect love God has for us! May we be inspired by grace to grow in receiving and offering love to God! May we want to offer nothing less than our heart to God! And may we want nothing less than His Heart in turn! Let us meet in the Heart of our Lord! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
1. My photo, Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.
2. Painting, Corporal Works of Mercy, artist unknown
3. Fresco Painting, The Last Supper, Giotto.
4. Image, Hebrew Name of Yahweh: Adam Kadmon, by Fr. William Hart McNichols. This is the Tetragrammaton (I AM WHO AM) with the Hebrew letters transposed over one another. If you wish to purchase a copy in one of many mediums, go to fineartamerica.com/featured/hebrew-name-of-yahweh-adam-kadmon-183-william-hart-mcnichols.html
5. My photo, taken from behind a waterfall in the Smoky Mountains.
6. Stained Glass, Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Note: In compliance with GDPR rules, I wish to make it clear that I do not gather any information on any of my readers at any time.
Heart Speaks to Heart