Saturday, June 19, 2010

Let it be Said of Us

There's this Christian song by John Waller & Mark Hall, called 'The Blessing', that I really love.  The song is about choosing to be a blessing in life, and that the way we choose to live our life is how we will influence people and how we will be remembered - especially as Christians.  I heard it in the car the other day, and it reminded me of a homily I heard in Holy Mass several weeks ago.  For some reason, this particular homily has been popping up in my mind ever since I heard it.  This may sound horrible, but usually I have trouble remembering what the homilies are about, so when they do stick, I believe that God is trying to tell me something...maybe even beat me over the head with some aspect of Catholic living that I need to work on!  Now, in my defense, I've either been pregnant, nursing, or both for the majority of the last 5 1/2 + years, so remembering things is definitely NOT my strong point at this stage of the game.  However, that doesn't mean that I'll be excused of my accountability to live my Faith in the best way possible.  Anyway, the homily on this particular Sunday (please don't ask me what the Gospel it related to was, because I have no idea) had to do with God's love for us.  Now, this is a pretty common topic for homilies, but Father's particular view on God's love was nothing that I had ever heard before.  He went on to explain that while God's love for us is more immense and greater than anything we can give Him in return, it is not unconditional.  Pretty much all we hear these days is how God's love for us in unconditional.  But, Father explained that no where in the Bible does it say, nor imply, that God's love for us is unconditional.  And, he pointed out, that no papal documents hold this belief, either.  I actually looked up 'God's love' in the Catechism, and it mentions nothing about God's love being unconditional, as well....everlasting, yes, but not unconditional.  So, God's love will always be there for us, but we have to do something to get it (thus the conditional part).  Now, I'll be the first to admit that this made me squirm in my seat at first.  I was not exactly excited by what I was hearing...repulsed, maybe, but not excited.  But, as he went on to explain how God's love actually worked, it opened my eyes more than a little bit.  What he made me realize is that God's love is not, in fact, unconditional, but totally conditional upon the choices that I make in life.  It's not that God doesn't want to give us His love in complete abundance.  I mean, God IS love, so how can He withhold it from those that He created?  He withholds it from us because we don't allow Him to pour His love into our hearts, and God will never violate our free will.  The conditional part of God's love stems not from HIS choice to hold back His love, but from OUR choice to reject it.  Now, obviously I don't think that God will hate us if we completely reject Him (and some people do reject Him completely).  I think that God will always have love for His creation, but I think that what Father was trying to tell us is that the amount of love that God puts in our hearts directly relates to the amount that we open our hearts to receive that love.  At one point in his homily, Father pointed out that in the Gospel of St. John, Christ tells us that in order to abide in His love, we must keep His commands (see John 15:10), which implies that we are capable of not abiding in His love, if we choose to disobey His commands.  He also pointed out that, though God's love for us is conditional upon our choice to accept or reject it, our love for Him can and should be unconditional.  For one thing, we've done nothing to deserve God's love, where as He has done everything to deserve ours - including dying a horrible death for our salvation!  So, we should be loving God in every circumstance and under every condition, so that God will be able to pour out the love He wants to give us.  Because I believe He wants to give us love in complete and total abundance, if we would just let Him.  But, that's the hard part - letting Him.  It's so much easier to sit in a little bubble, believing that God will love me, no matter what I do.  But, if I rely on that belief, then I have no reason to change my life and work harder to be a good Catholic.  It makes perfect sense...the more I strive to love God, the more love He will bestow upon me, but the lazier I am and the less willing I am to give love to Him, then the less He will be able to give love to me.  Who am I to think that God owes me something for nothing???  Society is always trying to tempt us into thinking that we can do whatever we want and get away with it, because God's love is 'unconditional', but where's the merit in that?  Why would I want to change, or work hard at being Catholic, if I don't have to?  Now, this is not to say that God will not forgive us for anything we do wrong, because He will forgive us for anything.  But, even that is conditional...conditional upon us having true contrition, and conditional upon us actually approaching the Sacrament of Confession to ask God for His forgiveness.  And, I think we have to be careful to not judge God's love for us by the amount of suffering He sends to us...contrary to popular belief, suffering does not equal punishment.  God gives to those what He knows they need to obtain eternal salvation, suffering included, so it's not about how we feel, but about choosing God, using what He sends us for His Glory, and doing what is right in His eyes, despite the difficulties (also something I need to work on!).  Anyway...I know this is probably not the kind of thing people really want to hear, but this is what I feel that God is telling me right now.  That I need to focus on my choices in life.  I need to ensure that I choose God everyday of my earthly life, so that I can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.  So, in the words of John Waller:
 
"let it be said of us
that our hearts belonged to Jesus
let it be said of us
that we spoke the words of life
let it be said of us
that our heritage is blessing for life"


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