Why is it so hard to understand that we are fully loved by God? In spiritual direction, one of the most difficult things I watch people struggle with is their belief that God loves them. Guess what? I struggle with this too.
Honestly, the idea of God’s freely given, unearned gift of love for us is one of the most counter-cultural beliefs that our faith teaches us. At least in American culture. Here we earn our worth and value, and we tie it to what we own or what we do. Thankfully, though, God doesn’t operate by American cultural standards or the ridiculously unreachable standards I try to set for myself at times. God simply loves me. That’s it. God loves me and each of you just as we are.
Our Lenten Theme:
Understanding God’s love for each of us is such an important topic that it’s the focus of our Lenten series, Fully Loved: Encountering the Heart of Christ. During the weeks of Lent, we will discover how we come to know, accept, receive and share God’s love by taking a close look at Jesus, God’s love incarnate.
God’s love expressed through the humanity of Jesus:
St. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises invites us in a meditation on the Incarnation to consider the Trinity looking down upon the world and seeing….
“Men and women being born and being laid to rest, some getting married and others getting divorced, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the happy and the sad, so many people aimless, despairing, hateful, and killing, so many undernourished, sick, and dying, so many struggling with life and blind to any meaning….people laughing and crying, some shouting and screaming, some praying, others cursing.
In what Ignatius calls “the leap of divine joy,” he invites us to imagine the Trinity knowing that the time has come to respond to the groaning of all creation. The Trinity’s response is to incarnate the second Person of the Trinity, who will take on human flesh as Jesus of Nazareth and become Emmanuel, “God with us.”
Jesus entered our humanity:
God could have taken on any human form – perhaps as a teenager or an adult or a wise elder, but instead God came in the form of an innocent child. Why? So Jesus could grow in wisdom and understanding, so he could experience the beauty and messiness of our human lives, and so he could reveal to us the depth of God’s love for us.
Jesus entered humanity so we can understand the way to live fully loved. He spells it out clear as can be at the last supper when he says, “Where I am going you know the way.” (Jn 14:4)
Many of us, though, are always doubting the way laid out before us putting to God the same question Thomas asked Jesus, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5)
What Jesus told Thomas he tells us also, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6) Jesus is both telling us he knows the way to knowing, accepting, receiving, and sharing God’s love, as well as reminding us that we, too, know the way – through him.
What can we do to live fully loved?
Let your prayer this week be the three powerful words Pope Francis offered us in his homily a few weeks ago, “God loves me. God loves me. God loves me.”
Want to go deeper?