Coming Home To Love
A Reflection on the Catholic Church's December 22nd 2017 Scripture Passages
Over the years many devout Christians have come to me with fear in their heart, fear that their wayward loved ones (or themselves) will never experience heaven. Pointing to sacred scripture as evidence of an impending fatal judgement, they remain convinced that past (or current) behaviors will prevent entry into heaven. I understand. Even a cursory review of the Beatitudes can leave one confused with a sense of hopelessness. After all, who can live up to all that?
We know God is close to the brokenhearted, something I talk about in my Blog post here: God is Close to The Brokenhearted. Yet, today’s Gospel can be a little confusing when we look at our wayward loved ones. The very same loved ones who we also know are brokenhearted. Out of the mouth of Mary herself, God’s handling of wayward individuals seems rather straight forward. God scatters the proud, casts down the mighty, and sends the rich away empty. Then in today’s Responsorial Psalm we read that “The bows of the mighty are broken”, The well-fed hire themselves out for bread”, “the mother of many languishes”. So basically, God punishes bad people and only the holy and righteous will see heaven – right??? By these standards who can enter heaven? Is there more going on here? I believe there is.
God is Love
God is pure love and, given this, humanity is born of pure and perfect love. Love is the milieu we are immersed within and love is the force we are drawn towards. If indeed God has full authority over the universe he created, and he does, then surely every movement he directs orientates us towards love. God’s authority over the universe dictates that his every movement orientates man towards love; including his “scattering”, “casting down”, and “sending away”.
Within God’s love we find a natural orientation out of sin, pain, and heartache into real life. However, evil temptations that lead us away from God abound in this world. Temptations that arise from the Evil One’s false promises of happiness and love will only offer death and heartache. However, God’s hand is always near, offering a way home.
Sometimes the path into love must take us on a journey through spiritual emptiness. Sometimes, experiencing God’s divine absence is necessary for our hearts to open and receive his perfect love. Like the Prodigal son, we too must sometimes feel the sting of the Father’s absence before we can come home and celebrate a divine homecoming.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. – Romans 8:18 (NABRE)
When God scatters, casts down, or sends away his children these movements occur within his milieu of love. God always provides a breadcrumb trail home for his children to follow. Remember, Jesus came to gather the lost sheep who were scattered, to raise the brokenhearted who were cast down, and to bring God’s children home. The key is connecting to God’s love, a love that lives within you and me.
The New Temple
It seems that many (most) Christians are searching for God and heaven “out there”. Too many falsely believe that God is somewhere outside of ourselves, up in heaven in some far-away place siting on a throne harshly judging us. Prior to Jesus Christ God did indeed dwell outside of mankind. However, with Jesus everything changed. No longer does God dwell “out there”, rather, he dwells within each and every one of us. In order to find him and experience his love we must look within.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. - 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NABRE)
Jesus’ conception was the turning point. Love entered into humanity through the body of a woman and Christ would remain inside the bodies of God’s children. Mary was the first human being to experience the divine indwelling of God, and the only human being to experience his physical indwelling. Her sinless nature, her Immaculate Conception, was formed within the divine milieu of God’s love so that mankind could become the Temple of God.
We Are Love
Love is our true nature. We have always been love and our journey home can only lead to this truth. Our pain provides a unique opportunity to more fully share in God’s love. This includes the pain (and joy) experienced when God “puts to death and gives life; he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again... makes poor and makes rich, … humbles (and) also exalts”. We can become holy through our pain and when we do God’s goodness expands in and through us.
God doesn’t keep any of his children from approaching him; however, we must choose the path towards God. If we don’t seek love in our life now, then how could we seek love after our physical death? Even though love dwells within all of humanity, all too often we lose sight of this and we seek love “out there”.
This is where things get scary. Mankind is full of wounded people who seek love in all the places promised to not offer love. People across history have failed to experience real love because the Evil One has been tempting humanity with lies ever since the Fall. We must turn within and seek God, allowing his love to heal our wounds.
Turning within is not a call into self-isolation. Rather, it is a call into healing. A call to heal the wounds we experience in our families and our love relationships. A movement in this direction requires humility, spiritual poverty, and a hunger for God. God can and will fill us up with the healing balm we need – especially those who have fallen away from him.
Praying for the Lost
Too many of God’s children are separated from him, they are lost and can’t find the bread crumb trail home. Many of the lost are in our families. We must pray for them. We must also seek Christ within us so he can direct our movements with the divine milieu of God’s love. With proper direction we can invite others into love as well. All of us can live a of virtue and goodness; however, we can only do this with the help of Christ. He is ready, willing, and always able to direct our path towards God and into heaven.
God bless all of you – have a Merry Christmas with your loved ones! See you next week Friday! – Carolyn
Sacred Heart of Jesus – have mercy on us.
Father God – consume us.
Holy Spirit – enter into us.
Blessed Virgin Mary – pray for us.