Admission time…for years this “thing” about God’s love for me and for all, I didn’t really get it.
Okay, I was taught it, but I did not understand it. So that God felt the emotion of Love for me, what did that have to do with me and and how I live my life. How did it change anything? Life was still difficult. There were still problems. Me and others were still hurting.
My attitude and belief has changed, or has been changed. I understand better, in the heart and head, the power of the Father’s love, and the trust of that Love.
We have two great stories from Scripture of the power of trust in the Father’s love. The first is the power of failure in that trust, and the second is the power of success in that trust.
Adam & Eve, first of all, are not the two first people of the world, they are us! People who are tempted away from trusting in the God’s love for us. People who fail in the trust of love. Look at the story, Adam & Eve are tempted to take matters into their own hands; tempted to not have patience with God; tempted to place their trust in a material thing, a piece of fruit. And we know the results of their failure to trust…sin, death, chaos.
When we read this story to its completion, it is not that God punishes Adam and Eve, rather he states the consequences of their choice. Because they chose to separate themselves from the power of his love, death will result; hard and at time seemingly fruitless work will result; there will be divisions.
YET, there is also a beautiful part to the end of this episode. Remember, Adam and Eve fashioned clothes for themselves out of leaves, hardly appropriate clothes to live in. God, scripture says, fashioned real clothes for them out of leather. God was caring for them and preparing them for what was about to happen. The Father’s love and care remained despite their choice.
Then we have the antithesis of Adam & Eve; Jesus Christ.
He remained faithful to the love of the Father in spite of the tempter’s proddings. He was not fooled or swayed by the easy promises, the quick and easy way nor material things. He remained solid in love of the Father, solid in trust of the Father’s love for him.
And of course this will find its fullness in the Paschal Mystery, in his suffering, death and resurrection. His firmness of trust in the Father’s love brings him to life after death. And this is what we celebrate as Catholics.
See, always the temptation is to doubt God’s love for us. The temptation is to ask…”Why did God do this to me? or What has God done for me? Why did God take away my child? Why did God give my spouse Cancer? Why did God make me lose my job? Why was I betrayed, attacked, violated? Why does God permit such evil in this world
The Father does not do this to us. This is what Christ reveals.
Suffering is very real in this world, and God does not have to inflict nor does God desire to inflict suffering on us. Suffering is already real. Jesus suffered, he suffered horrifically. Suffering cannot be avoided by us. Jesus shows us though that the Father is right there, amidst the suffering, calling us to trust. Even as hard as it may seem to hear him, see him, sense him, the Father is present. He cares for us.
When we lose sight of this we can fall into a darker place. We can become embittered about life; lose hope, immersed into our own darkness and pain, and anger. This builds until we fail to be alive. We live in depression, live in constant anger and fear, hate. We fail to love any more.
That is when the evil in this world wins. That is when the suffering conquers us.
However, when we strive to trust in the Father’s love….then we will have life. Even as Christ was raised from the dead, so too will we.
We will have the power to move beyond the hurt that we have experienced; we will have the power to move beyond the evil perpetrated against us. We will have the power to love. We will have the power to live and to be alive. We will conquer death, in and through Jesus Christ.
This is Christ’s promise, this is the Father’s covenant with us.
A covenant made real in each Eucharist. A covenant in which we remember God’s promise of love for us through our Scripture. A covenant given to us in the bread and wine that become the body and blood of Christ, given to us to renew us, to make present that promise…God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit always, always love us.
Lent is this graced period of time, to recapture that love; to be renewed in trusting God’s love for us. It is a time to examine in our lives where we truly have placed our trust, usually in the things and power of this world, and to turn away from them and back to God. It is a time graced in which we are going to be sorely tempted, but we know that we are given the power to overcome those temptation. It is a time graced in which after 40 days of discipline, we arrive at Easter and understand better, in hearts and minds, the saving power of the Father’s love for us.
So when tempted to doubt that Love…don’t give in. Remain firm, remain alive.