Monday, April 26, 2021

Why I end my homilies with "God love you".

If there is any thing that I can claim that I have achieved in my almost two-decades of being a priest, it is that I am quite certain that all of my parishioners will be able to tell you how I end up homilies, be they for the weekday or Sunday Masses.  Almost to a man, they will be able to say that it is with the three words “God love you”.


But what many of them cannot tell you is the reason for this.  Well, I am sure that there are those who can tell you, but I have a sense that even though I have mentioned my rationale for this closing signature, I can’t say for certain that the explanation has truly entered their psyche.  For this reason, I am hoping that putting this in a blog reflection will help it attain its end, which is a life that is lived with the greatest security it can ever have.


I am a firm believe that the reason many people fall into sin, whether it is habitual sin or an rash act committed at the heat of the moment, is because they believe that the momentary choice of that action will provide them with one or more of the following:


-       an experience that they are loved

-       some semblance of security

-       a freedom from a fear or anxiety that at that point is filling their lives

-       a sense of comfort 

-       a relief from some sense of boredom because life without thrills is a life with no meaning


The list of course, is legion.  There are a host of other reasons why sinful actions are chosen by us sinful human beings, but at the bottom of them all, if you can filter them with a spiritual filter, will reveal that right at the core of all of them is that we are not loved, or that we are not lovable, or that we need to earn the right to be loved.


The important belief that God loves us, and loves us unconditionally is the panacea to this perennial problem.  Why God? Why not any other thing or any other person?  Why not your dog?  Why not your spouse or your best friend?  Why doesn’t that solve the problem?  


Because they are not eternal, and their love for you comes from God who is the source of love.  Their love for you, no matter how sincere and how unconditional, has an expiry date, which in the best case, will be the day they die.  


Their love, support and their very presence in your life gives you the energy and zeal that you have for life itself.  With this comes security – a person who is secure in life is always a positive influence to the community.  In the same way, a person who is insecure, needy and constantly seeking attention and wanting recognition in its different forms can drain the energy in a room.  


As Timothy Keller said in his book “The Meaning of Marriage”, being loved and not known is comforting but superficial.  To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.  But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God.  


God truly knows us, and despite knowing us better than we know ourselves, he makes that choice to love us.  For this reason, knowing that we are so loved by God has to give us the greatest security and confidence in life.


God never ceases to exist, and he loves us despite knowing us for who we are, including our darkest and most heinous of sins, and who has shown us the lengths to which he was willing to demonstrate this through Calvary’s cross.  


I suspect that this gem is akin to the pearl of great price that Jesus alluded to in his parable found in Matthew 13.  


It is truly a gem if you find it, but I suspect that many have yet to.  Its power is something that has the ability to make a sea change in our life, change our orientation in life, give us new reason to live, enable us to go through any degree of suffering and pain, and result in transformations that are worthy of the term metanoia.  


But no human person has any power to make it happen to another.  It is truly and purely Grace, though what we need to offer one another are experiences of this love in the ways that we live our Christian lives.  Each of our encounters with one another needs to be seen as an opportunity to give each other a glimpse of this divine truth.  

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