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A Humble Love — Love Being Loved

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By P.J. Kerbard

During this Holy Week, I simply need to reflect with you that you are doing what is right — waiting on the Lord, holding the crucified Jesus in your hands. Thus, He will be in your heart and be your peace.

You have been called to trust in God completely. Trust is not an emotion. Rather, it is an act of the will, just as love is not an emotion but an act of the will.

I will to love. I will to trust. When loving and willing seem absent and not even possible, it is then that the act of the will to love becomes a true and pure love. True, because it is not love offered and given based on what one receives. Rather, it is fully based on simply loving the beloved even when the beloved does not seemingly respond.

Isn't this what God is always doing toward us — we who so often do not respond to His ever-present love? (Here, again, I remind you that love is the desire of the greatest good for the beloved, with all that St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13.)

The human struggle with love — that is, loving others as they are — is based on the pure, unlimited love one has for God. Thus, love of God must be first and foremost in our lives, always the "up-front" reality. We are to love others as we love ourselves. This means that the great good we desire for the other is equal to or even greater than the good we desire for ourselves. This is why it demands heroic love, a heroic act of the will.

We are to celebrate this in a very special way this Holy Week by contemplating the Passion of Jesus. His act in fulfilling the Father's will is heroic beyond all measure. It is the exemplary — the greatest example of unselfish love.

If, at times we wonder why God allows us to experience His absence, the sense of being totally abandoned by Him, we should recall that Jesus experienced this profoundly — first in the Garden of Gethsemani, then on the cross. Indeed, on the cross, He was completely overcome by the cloud of abandonment: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me" (Mt 27:46).

Those whom God loves He permits at one time or another to experience this profound sense of being abandoned. But it is the absolute TRUST that calls a soul to surrender to God and to let Him carry oneself — to become the proverbial "clay in His Hands" so salvation is formed in all its power and beauty in our lives. This is hard. It requires taking up the cross and following Christ and doing the will of the Father.

Is your worrying really making matters clearer and more perfect? I doubt it. All it is doing is holding you in the captivity of your own mind and soul. Trust — the act of the will that lets God be God and you be His little child — allows you to hold onto His Hand and know He is leading you in the way that leads to freedom of soul, mind and will. Is this not the disposition you desire to evoke in the children you teach?

As to the perfection of a friend and his/her being a trusting soul, only God knows each of our hearts — better than we. So let God be God for your friend and do not try to make him or her into your image and likeness, to make in him or her what you vision to be the perfect person. Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus teaches us that if we see a lack of good in another, then we should find one little good and thank God this soul is living the good.

I realize how painful it is to try to make others live life and see life as I see it and live it — but I also know how wonderfully freeing it is to just simply marvel at all the good God is doing in another and to thank God for the good he does in me. This then releases my soul to live in awe — that is the bedrock of contemplation.

Saint Faustina has a lot to offer for reflection on love. I am just offering this one point for encouragement and teaching, especially as we recall the Way of the Cross and measure ours against His.

Saint Faustina writes:

True love is measured by the thermometer of suffering. Jesus, I thank You for the little daily crosses, for opposition to my endeavors, for the hardships of communal life, for the misinterpretation of my intentions, for humiliations at the hands of others, for the harsh way in which we are treated, for false suspicions, for poor health and loss of strength, for self-denial, for dying to myself, for lack of recognition in everything, for the upsetting of all my plans.

Thank You, Jesus, for interior sufferings, for dryness of spirit, for terrors, fears and incertitudes, for the darkness and the deep interior night, for temptations and various ordeals, for torments too difficult to describe, especially for those which no one will understand, for the hour of death with its fierce struggle and all its bitterness.

I thank You, Jesus, You who first drank the cup of bitterness before You gave it to me, in a much milder form. I put my lips to this cup of Your holy will. Let all be done according to Your good pleasure; let that which Your wisdom ordained before the ages be done to me. I want to drink the cup to its last drop, and not seek to know the reason why. In bitterness is my joy, in hopelessness is my trust. In You, O Lord, all is good, all is a gift of Your paternal Heart. I do not prefer consolations over bitterness or bitterness over consolations, but thank You, O Jesus, for everything! It is my delight to fix my gaze upon You, O incomprehensible God! My spirit abides in these mysterious dwelling places, and there I am at home. I know very well the dwelling place of my Spouse. I feel there is not a single drop of blood in me that does not burn with love for You.

O Uncreated Beauty, whoever comes to know You once cannot love anything else. I can feel the bottomless abyss of my soul, and nothing will fill it but God Himself. I feel that I am drowned in Him like a single grain of sand in a bottomless ocean (Diary 343).

The procession of Jesus to Calvary is a time in which you not only cry out for mercy but also you spread yourself at Jesus' feet and let His humble offering lead you to the glory of surrendered love. The moments to make an act of the will to love is the opportunity to walk free in the embrace of a God. It is He who strengthens our every step, our every thought and every hope.

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