Today we should be in for a treat. Not candy, but a treat of the rarest, most precious commodities: LOVE
And do we ever need it! Even on Christmas morning, even on Easter Sunday, even on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, we can run out of it and feel as if our very existence is threatened.
Most of us come from excellent families, our parents are/ were, dedicated, loving, caring, nurturing, protective, supportive. Yet, day in and day out, in addition to this very menacing and unsettling pandemic, we could also be exposed to the fickleness and ugliness of some human hearts.
We are all rather delicate in our need for affection, acceptance and shelter; hence, the weakest among us might feel quite insecure. We, ourselves, might wonder: “What if those who love me the most were to go wild on me; do insane things to hurt me or simply forget my name, write me off, ignore my needs because my mind is not what it used to be?
During moments of tender intimacy with us, his disciples, the Lord Jesus assures us that he will not leave us orphaned, but that our constant need for love will be met around the clock. (cf. John 14:15-21)
Already in the Old Testament we found firm reassurance: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you! Isaiah 49:15
But, in the New Testament, the cross of Jesus becomes the ultimate corroboration that we are loved immensely, the way God alone can love. And Jesus’ resurrection is the ultimate evidence that his way of loving is unparalleled and unfailing.
This knowledge of being loved by God in a way that is divine and unmatched, should change completely the way we face each new day, each new challenge, each new trial. Yet, as good and as comforting as this is, it is mostly cerebral, up here, in our minds. We cannot go around gazing every moment at the picture of Jesus crucified. This is why he has provided for us, God-made, God-designed people that would prove, around the clock, that this “love insurance policy” signed by God is the best.
In these vexing days of deep uncertainties and scary events, we do not lack people who feel called to self-sacrifice, (it is trendy, now, to call them heroes) as they show that there is another way, God’s way, of dealing with serious problems and death. It is the way of love. It is not bent on forcing the other to yield, to surrender, to be humiliated; rather, it is intent on affirming, accepting, focusing on the other and on his/her needs.
Through “sacrificial people,” God teaches us the strength of gentleness and the power of unselfishness. We learn to be concerned about others and, therefore, that it is pointless to argue, to threaten, to shout, to expect always to have it our way. We learn to gain intuitive insights into the needs of others. We learn to live in a way that it would be harder for us to wonder about the possibility of being used, abused, neglected, exploited, rejected, hurt. And if that were to happen, we must be certain that someone already very close to us, or someone else, sent by God, will be there for us.
But, how can we repay God for sending our way wonderful people who are willing to be sacrificed for our wellbeing? It would be by imitation. By proving to God and to these heroic people that we are convinced that the way of love pays off excellent dividends all the way around. By acting in a loving way, a way that would prove them both that we have learned the most important lesson of life.
Years ago, I came across a passage from St. Theresa of Avila, a Doctor of the Church: it is very edifying.
If you feel in your heart that Jesus is urging you to show love to someone, by all means do it. Follow that divine invitation. After all you are, then and there, the only hands, the only heart, the only feet, the only eyes, the only arms Jesus has to tell those in need that he loves them.
After we are done watching Holy Mass on the Internet or on our television set, today, we should start looking in a different way at our moms and dads and all those people whom God has placed in our lives to assure us of the closeness and the prompt availability of His love.
Once our churches open up again, that thought would enable us to celebrate the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of the Cross, within a solid frame of all the sacrifices that people who love us make.
At the same time, we should feel heartened by those who are the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that we will not be left orphaned, that he will send the Paraclete among us. Furthermore, we should pause, rise above our frights and apprehensions, take a deep breath and wonder why we might be still so unwilling to be the instruments that Jesus uses to bring comfort and warmth and closeness to those who feel orphaned and isolated. May his Spirit enlighten us to see that each and every Eucharist cannot end at the exit door of our church.
For years and years, when things were “normal,” we might have been glad that the Mass had ended and that we could go back to our little world of minor things and mostly moderate worries. Today, at long last, let us remember that we are the Body of Christ, soon to be nourished again by the Body of Christ, so that we may be serving and loving the Body of Christ outside of the walls of our church building; even at a very high personal cost.
Yet, that cost, will have a crucial impact on bringing Christ’s joy and closeness, and comfort to so many who find it hard to believe that Jesus, indeed, cares for them.