Wednesday, January 07, 2015

God First Loved Us

By Beth DeCristofaro

Beloved, we love God because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 19-20)

(Jesus) unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.  Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-21)

Jesus help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be – and becoming that person.  (St. Therese of Lisieux)

Someone once described the Christian who does not love his/her neighbor, especially those who are different or difficult, as someone who willingly gets into Jesus’ boat but stays tied to the dock.  This depiction rings true to me.  A relationship with God is deepened and strengthened by God’s invitation, Grace and on God’s terms not our own.  It rings true because in my own life I am becalmed when I choose to be judgmental or choose to avoid conflict even if it is a matter of speaking up against injustice.  These are areas in which I have struggled.  It can be scary but when I “untie” the boat and act in love, God’s currents have always floated me into deeper depths with Him.

In the Gospel, Jesus announces his identity to a crowd in the temple.  They listened intently and   spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.  At times however, the crowds sought to drive Jesus away or even kill him.  The way I treat my neighbor recalls the crowds’ reactions.  As God has loved us already, (at times I feel that it is in spite of myself!) then how can I not put my sister or brother – whom God loves first - before myself?  Jesus gives us the navigation chart when he says ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:45)

Can we hear God’s gracious words in our brother or sister who give us the opportunity to love?  Or must we remain tied to the dock?  St. Therese also said “Because I was little and feeble the Lord stooped down to me and lovingly instructed me in the secrets of his love.”  In what concrete ways might I “untie” my boat and experience the freedom of drifting in God’s loving currents?

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