God is love! Today, the Holy Roman Catholic Church celebrate the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a very important feast, and today's Scripture readings can certainly help us understand the meaning of this great celebration as we journey in our faith and in our daily lives.
The first reading from the Prophet Hosea, we hear God saying, "When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; Yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer. My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred." Sounds almost like a lover appealing to the one he/she loves to take notice of the love and affection being poured out.
"God is love" and I am sure that you have heard this phrase before, one that captures in a very real way, all of our Christian faith. It is also one of the most astounding claims of Christianity - "God is love."
It is all fine and good to make the statement that God is love. We must also know and understand exactly what it means and what are its implications on our lives. What does the claim that God is love mean? What impact does it and should it have on our lives? Would we, should we live our lives differently upon understanding what that rather bold statement truly means?
All religious traditions are centered on the human search and longing for God. In the deepest recesses of every human heart is the search for happiness transcendence. The search for God is all part of our humanness, and until we find God, our hearts and our souls will know no peace. There will be restlessness within us for within each of us, there is this longing for that which we cannot see nor measure nor control with our human experience. This is the basic human longing and search for God that was well said by St. Augustine - "our hearts are restless until they rest in you Lord."
Today's feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us that Christianity is not about our search for God. Rather it is about God's search for us, out of pure love for us, his creation; His prodigal daughters and sons; and he waits, and he looks, and he waits, and he looks, hoping that we will all come home; home to his tender love and mercy.
After the fall of man through sin, God so desired our friendship, our communion, our intimacy, that he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to bear the burden of sin and alienation of the entire human race so that we may be reconciled to friendship with God. God from all eternity and out of love, a love like we've never seen, a love we can never fully comprehend; in that love and through the Sacred Heart of Jesus, He comes in search of us, his beloved.
There are many people who believe that God is some remote, powerful being who created the world, then stands by as it turns, waiting on us to make mistakes so that he can punish us with his iron rod. There is nothing further from the truth than this, and today's readings tell us this. Looking at the first reading again, God tells us, "My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again; For I am God and not a man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you."
God has made it quite clear that he has no desire to do with us as we truly deserve. He has no desire to vent his anger on us. He has no desire to destroy. then he makes a very powerful statement, "for I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you." What God is saying is that he does not think nor act the way we do when our relationships go sour. We will give up on love, we will become bitter with the one we "once loved". We may even try to destroy the one who we "once loved". Rather, in spite of our infidelity, in spite of our waywardness, in spite of our ingratitude, in spite of our total lack of response to God's love, what does God do? How does he respond? With more love and with mercy.
God's love is an extreme love. It is easy for us humans to find reasons why others would and do love us. It is completely different when we try to comprehend why God, the creator of all things that ever was, that is, and that will be; who is all powerful - why this God should love and care for us the way that He does. It is not because we deserve his love but rather because He is Love, and He cannot be anything else but love.
God is a personal Being, and He lives in a community of divine persons - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and he invites you and I - all of us - into this divine communion of love, of joy and of peace. Not only does He invite us, but He waits and yearns for us to respond, for us to accept that invitation, for us to commune with Him.
This is what we mean when we say that God is love and the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a reminder of this fundamental proclamation of Christian faith.
Many people find it difficult to open their hearts and lives to God's love. It may be because of some experience that has left them broken. Maybe they never knew their father, or was rejected of abused by him. There may be some other human experiences that may have left them broken and makes it quite painful may have closed the heart and mind to block out God's love.
By coming into the world Jesus reveals in flesh and blood, the very heart of God. This divine revelation far exceeds anything that you and I can imagine or create, or experience. It is the revelation of God's eternal, merciful and forgiving love. Only this divine love far exceeds our human sinfulness, alienation or pain. Only divine love reconciles, heals and forgive us in a way that is true and lasting.
So on this very special feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us take a moment to thank God for His love, and let us resolve to be the humble reflections of divine love to all those in our world who are in such desperate need of the healing love of God.
This then is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
God Bless You. God Loves You.
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