Wednesday, August 08, 2012

With Age-Old Love I Have Loved You

With Age-Old Love I Have Loved You

August 8, 2012
Memorial of Saint Dominic, priest

By Colleen O'Sullivan

At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel, and they shall be my people.  Thus says the Lord:  The people that escaped the sword have found favor in the desert.  As Israel comes forward to be given his rest, the Lord appears to him from afar; With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.  Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin Israel; Carrying your festive tambourines, you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers.  Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; those who plant them shall enjoy the fruits.  Yes, a day will come when the watchmen will call out on Mount Ephraim:  “Rise up, let us go to Zion, to the Lord, our God.”  For thus says the Lord:  Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say:  The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.  (Jeremiah 31:1-7)


Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt;
and from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me.
(Psalm 51:3-5)


O Lord, as I listen to the words you spoke of old to my ancestors in faith, I hear you speaking to me as well.  For it is a tale as contemporary as it is ancient, a story repeated not only in every generation, but in every human heart.  You call us into being and you make a covenant with us.  I will be your God, you say, and, in turn, you ask us to be your people.  I am indelibly marked by the waters of my baptism as one of your children.

You have never gone back on your promise.  You, O Lord, are always there, loving, guiding and sustaining me.  I am the faithless one.  I am the one who breaks the covenant between us.  In spite of your overwhelming love for me, I am tempted by the beguiling whispers of other, false gods.  Lured by their siren songs, I turn and walk away from you.  Though I have never seen Babylon, I have been there more than once in my heart, exiled from you and all that is familiar.

Though I may wander a great distance, eventually I remember who and whose I am.   I fall on my knees, sorrow for my sins pouring forth.  I hear you call:  “With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you…”  With overwhelming gratitude, I put my hand in yours and allow you to lead me home.  “Shout with joy…the Lord has delivered his people!”


There is no reason to live as a stranger in a strange land, exiled by our sins.  As Fr. Tuck Grinnell reminds us at every diocesan healing Mass, the one type of healing every one of us can be assured of is forgiveness for our sins.  God, like the Father in the parable of the prodigal son, is waiting for us to return.  His arms are always open, ready to welcome us home.

If you are feeling burdened by sin, turn to the Lord for forgiveness, for he is a merciful God.  You could also look up the times for confession in your parish, because the sacrament of reconciliation is truly a healing gift.

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