Throughout Lent 2015 -and I hope always- I concern myself most with God’s love. It is not that I feel particularly deserving of Divine Affection. The truth is that I sometimes find myself running from God’s embrace because I am unsure of what to do with it. If I acknowledge God’s love, I must acknowledge that, to God, I am lovable. If I acknowledge God’s love, I must acknowledge that the least I can do is to share that love with those around me. If I acknowledge God’s love, I must acknowledge that this love is worth everything I will have to sacrifice to reveal God’s love through my life. You see, when I acknowledge God’s love, I commit myself to changing my little corner of the world as only I can. Yes, living God’s love is a daunting task which is the reason I am sometimes tempted to run away from it.
It is during these times of doubt that God’s persistence in loving me becomes most apparent. Before I began this writing, a ray of sunshine cut across the piles on my desk and urged me toward the window to see more. As I basked in the sunshine which warmed me quite nicely, I looked affectionately at the mounds of melting gray snow at the curb. At that moment, it occurred to me that God looks with far greater affection upon me. “I know. I know,” I said aloud. “You’re using that melting snow in ways I don’t realize, just as you’re using me.” With that, I returned to this writing with renewed energy and a bit of inspiration. God’s resolve to love you and me is indeed perpetual regardless of our frequent, but futile attempts to run away from it. The scriptures frequently underscore God’s affection for us. In the passages I cite today, God’s persistent love reveals itself once again.
In Jeremiah 31:31-34, the prophet tells us that God absolved the Israelites of every sort of evil and God continued to love them in spite of it all. Through Jeremiah, God assured all concerned: “…this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel… I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people… All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” St. Paul the Apostle offered further assurance through his letter in Hebrews 5:7-9. Paul reminded the people that God’s love became flesh in the person of Jesus, the source of salvation for all. Not leaving our understanding of his passion and death to chance, Jesus lived the thirty-three years beforehand to reveal God’s intent to us. Through every word and deed, Jesus revealed God’s continued care, unqualified forgiveness and never-ending love. In his gospel, John (12:20-33) underscored all of this when he quoted Jesus’ resolve: “…when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” Jesus promised to dismiss the pain of the cross, unbearable though it would be, to outstretch his arms to embrace us just as God had always done and just as God would continue to do.
This Fifth Sunday of Lent, we celebrate the amazing gift which is God’s unconditional love: The love which drove Jesus to endure his passion and death; the love which drew Jesus from the tomb to celebrate the salvation of humankind; the love which impelled Jesus to remain among the people for forty days, reassuring them with his peace and his promise of the Spirit to come. Jesus’ message of love was so convincing that the disciples overcame their own fear and spread the word regarding God’s love to all who would listen. This is the same love to which we attune our hearts during this Lent and always.
In the end, I realize that acknowledging God’s love is not quite as difficult as it seemed at the onset of this writing. All that any of us need to do is to embrace the opportunities in every moment we are given. Whether they involve hope or despair, blessings or loss, we will somehow to make it through. Whether we are filled with energy or dragging ourselves along, we will manage the tasks at hand. Some way and somehow, God’s love will see to it that we celebrate our joy with enthusiasm and that we survive our darkest moments with a bit of energy to spare. Throughout Lent 2015 -and I hope always- I concern myself most with God’s love. It is not that I feel particularly deserving of Divine Affection. I know I am deserving and so are you. God insists upon it!
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