Psalms 116:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
Everyone enjoys a good love story. Do you remember being younger and wanting to hear a favorite story or see a favorite movie over and over again? We seem to have an endless capacity to keep hearing the story of love, struggle, and then more love. On this occasion of Valentine’s Day, it seems most fitting that you and I remember, “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told,” namely God’s overwhelming love for you and me. I invite you to pause for a minute and remember how God has loved you.
“Once upon a time…” or “In the beginning…” was the Word. God, out of great love, created the world, all living creatures, and man and woman in His image and likeness. He established a covenant with us, a bond of love that said through our family in faith that “I will be your God and you shall be my people.” (Exodus 6:7) When our ancestors became lost, He led them out of slavery into the Promised Land and promised that “You shall no more be termed ‘Forsaken,’ and your land shall no more be termed ‘Desolate;’ but you shall be called ‘My Delight’ and your land ‘Espoused.’” (Isaiah 62:4) And so our God has “married” us, sending Jesus, the Beloved Son, to be Bridegroom of us, the Church, to carry us home to be at the right hand of the Father in fullness with all our brothers and sisters.
This is nice, but what does it concretely have to do with your life and my life? I invite you to take some time today to pause and remember. Remember what? Remember the good things God has done for you. Recall your own unique, very personal love relationship with God. Whether you feel close to God or very distant, stop, pause, and remember. Remember the stories around your birth, your family—with all its pain and difficulties and goodness, your years of growing up, going to school, finding a job and a vocation that fulfilled you (or will fulfill you), friendships, love relationships, and your current blessings. I’m not suggesting that you over-romanticize your life. Look at it squarely and honestly. How has God been with you, sustained you in loss and difficulty, comforted you in sorrow, assured you in times of discouragement, sent “angels”--messengers to rescue you in times of distress? Often it is in the midst of the struggles that you and I can most profoundly see and taste God’s love. Our psalm today asks, “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?”
Then what? What do you and I do with this? No matter where you find yourself today-- deeply comforted by these thoughts or deeply pained by the difficulties you face today-- say whatever is in your heart to God. If you’re angry, tell God. If you’re lonely, tell Him. If you’re peaceful, tell Him. The most wonderful fact about true love is that we can just be ourselves and be completely honest and messy. So, whatever is stirred in you this day, tell the One who loves you more than you can imagine, the truth of what’s in your heart. The psalmist continues, “The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.”
What difference will this make? Isn’t this a bit self-focused? This honest love relationship between you and God will make all the difference in the world. As you and I permit ourselves to receive love we can, in turn, love others far beyond ourselves.
Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., former General of the Society of Jesus, was once asked by someone about the practicality of all this God talk. He said,
“Nothing is more practical than finding God,Today is a day to fall in love all over again with the one(s) you most love. May you and I let ourselves fall in love with the One who loves us beyond our imaginings!
Happy Valentine’s Day.
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