Daily Reflection
January 21st, 2003
Kathy Kanavy
Institute for Priestly Formation
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr
Hebrews 6:10-20
Psalm 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 and 10c
Mark 2:23-28

The Lord’s Promise 

What would you say if someone told you that he or she promised to love you completely, even in your weakness and mistakes—no matter what life brings?  And what would you feel as this person proclaimed that he or she was madly in love with you?  It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  Perhaps you have had this experience in some way in life, particularly if you are married.  Yet in this age of divorce and broken promises, we subtly fear, even if we have tasted this love a bit, that it will go away.  We all long to know and experience that we are loved in our vulnerability not just for today but forever.  If we’re honest, it probably feels too good to be true.  But it really is ours to receive from God.

Today’s first reading from Hebrews speaks profoundly of this truth.  Listen to the language of promise, of covenant, of love:
“When God made the promise to Abraham,
since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
and said, I will indeed bless you and multiply you.
And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise.
Now, men swear by someone greater than themselves;
for them an oath serves as a guarantee
and puts an end to all argument.
So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise
an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose,
he intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things,
in which it was impossible for God to lie,
we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged
to hold fast to the hope that lies before us.
This we have as an anchor of the soul….”    (Hebrews 6:13-19)

The reading straightforwardly says, it is impossible for God to lie.  He made a promise to Abraham and to all his descendants that his love would be a love of covenant.  This is not merely a contract or an agreement, but an unbreakable bond of love until the end of time.  In Christ, this covenant is manifest in the passion of his love, his dying for our sins.  And this covenant is not one merely something to be remembered but also one to be experienced in our hearts each day.  But how do we do this?

It’s simple. We are invited to ask for the grace to be able to receive his intimate love for us.  

In our sophistication, we make it complicated and we think that experiencing his love depends on us.  But it does not.  What God does ask us, in his free love, is if we want to accept his love.  He loves us so that he gives us the freedom to say no.  We subtly reject him in many ways, when he is eager to offer us the love we so desire.  The second letter from Timothy says:  “But if we deny him he will deny us.  If we are unfaithful he will still remain faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 12b,13).   God cannot deny his promise, his covenant.  He just wants us to say yes.  As you and I “taste” this truth more deeply, then we can love others with that same abandon.  St. Agnes, whom we remember today, knew that intimate love for her.  It is from this love that she could lay down her life in martrydom.

So, I urge you and myself today, to let go of the sophistication and to ask God humbly for the grace to let him love us.  How anxious he is for us to receive his love! 

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