The love of God is indeed very overwhelming. If we were to truly feel all of the grace we are given and all of the love He bears for us we would not be able to withstand it. In Old Testament times it was believed that if one saw the face of God one would perish. God seemed to confirm this belief when He ‘protected’ Moses in response to his request to see God’s glory. God said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim my name, “LORD,” before you; I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will. But you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.” (Ex 33:19-20) The issue was not in seeing God’s face, but rather it was about being in the fullness of God’s love which Moses would not have been able to endure. The truth is that God’s love is so overwhelming and so intense that Moses would have indeed been consumed by it as if by the flame in the burning bush. God’s love is too intense for us to bear in our limited humanity and therefore He often moves beyond our ability to sense it. Only when we are with Him in Heaven forever will we be able to bear all that love. It is to this reality that we have to look forward.
In daily life it is important to open our eyes to love even in the midst of misfortune. Both joy and suffering can teach us great lessons. They teach us to value life and the things in it differently. They show us what really matters; and always what matters most are the people in our lives who are beloved to us, not the material possessions we have acquired. While material things are nice, they have no lasting value when life and death are weighed against them. We take none of it with us when we die. But what we do take is the love of those who we encountered and the love of God which never leaves us. We take with us the effects of the love which we gave in response. Even if we were not born into a loving family, it was the love of God which has accompanied us into life and which is with us the entire time we are here; it is His love which will usher us into the next life, and in whose company we will live forever. This is the pearl of great price of which Jesus taught. It is not material, but it is the love which we have always had and which we nurture by sharing with others. Paradoxically if we try to horde love, it shrinks, and if we give love away, it grows.
May we trust in God, believing in His promises, His presence, and His saving love for us! May we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the immensity of God’s love in the here and now! May we continue to pray for vocations to priesthood and religious life and may we have gratitude for those who respond to God’s call to ministry! May we ask for the gift of love for those with whom we come in contact, especially for those who are most difficult to love! May we see the goodness in those who are different than ourselves, receiving their love no matter how imperfect! May we forgive those who do not know love, having mercy and compassion for them! And may we sit in wonder and awe at such a loving God, amazed and filled with gratitude! Let us continue to meet in the heart of Jesus! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
The top photo was taken by Mary Solcher at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in New Orleans during the Jesuit ordination mentioned in the first paragraph.
Next are the work of Fr. William Hart McNichols. The first is called The Heart of the Mother of God and it can be found at http://www.fatherbill.org/all-categories/product/160-the-heart-of-the-mother-of-god.
The second is an image called The Name of God Yahweh which can be found at http://www.fatherbill.org/all-categories/product/31-the-name-of-god-yahweh.
The last photograph is one I took at St. Joseph on the Rio Grande Catholic Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.