The Greatness of the Love of God Who Comes to Meet Us in Our Littleness
During Lent, in many of his morning homilies in the Domus Santa Marta, Pope Francis has spoken about the love of God. But he has not spoken of a generic love for human beings, nor of theological concepts regarding divine love, but rather of God’s love for each one of us, of His love for me, in this moment.
The Pope repeats this continually: God seeks you, precisely you! God always precedes you, always arrives first. And He waits for you like the father of the Prodigal Son, and He embraces you in whatever situation you are in, as you are, full of limitations, in your sin.
Confronted with the daily challenges that each of us must face, if you make space for the cry of your heart, for your desire for happiness, you will come to see that everything that you can give yourself, by yourself, that you have looked for up to this instant, and everything that you can have from the world, cannot fulfill you, cannot make you fully happy. If you are honest with yourself, you will see that you cannot love truly if you do not first experience what it means to be loved, if you do not let yourself first be embraced by that merciful love that receives you now just as you are.
It is a total love, a gratuitous love, one that fills your heart and relaunches you in life, and that no one can give to you except God. And the thought of a God so in love with you moves your heart, because you cannot imagine a love so great and so beautiful for you! Only by means of this experience of mercy do you begin to love yourself and to realize that, even in your littleness, you too can embrace the people around you in a new way, renewed by His loving presence.
Certainly you can always choose to believe or not to believe this, in this chance even if only glimpsed for an instant that presents itself to you and knocks on the door of your heart, because love does not impose itself, never obliges the other to say “yes.”
But if you are already full from all that you do and or all that you have in life, and you do not look inside to see that need for the infinite that is inscribed in your heart, only with difficulty will you be able to see and to find something other than yourself. You will have already decided what is better for you, and eliminated the category of everything that does not depend on your own hands and your own will.
But, precisely in the most diverse circumstances that occur in life — certainly not by chance! — one receives the grace to verify that, if one begins to yield to His initiative and leaves space for “something Other” that one was seeking beneath all things and all relationships, one begins to sense that Christ corresponds to the infinite longing of one’s own heart and renders all of life greater and more beautiful. If one allows oneself to be surprised and does not close the doors of one’s heart, like an infant in the arms of its mother, one may begin to utter a timid “yes” before that newness of life one has glimpsed, and precisely on this timid “yes” the Lord begins to build…
—Maria Pia Carriquiry Gomez
“How We Are Changed”
March 16, 2015, Pope Francis’ Homily
We are the “dream of God” who, truly in love, wants to “change our life.” Through love. He only asks us to have faith to let Him do so. And thus “we can only cry for joy” before a God who “re-creates” us, Pope Francis said during Mass at Santa Marta on Monday, March 16.
In the first reading, a passage from Isaiah (65:17-21), “the Lord tells us that He creates new heavens and a new earth, that is, He re-creates things,” Francis explained, also recalling that “we have spoken many times of these ‘two creations’ of God: the first, which was done in six days, and the second, when the Lord ‘re-makes’ the world, destroyed by sin, in Jesus Christ.” And, he emphasized, “we have said so many times that this second is more marvelous than the first.” Indeed, the pontiff explained, “the first is already a marvelous creation; but the second, in Christ, is even more marvelous.”
In his meditation, however, Francis paused “on another aspect,” beginning from the passage of Isaiah in which “the Lord speaks about what He is going to make: a new heaven, a new earth.” And “we find that the Lord has much enthusiasm: He speaks of joy and says a word: ‘I will rejoice in my people.’” Essentially, “the Lord thinks about what He is going to do, He thinks that He, He Himself will rejoice with his people.” Thus, “it is as if it were a ‘dream’ of the Lord, as if the Lord ‘were dreaming’ of us: how beautiful it will be when we are all together, when we are there or when that person, or that one, or another one, will walk…”
Further clarifying his rationale, Francis returned to “a metaphor that can help us understand: it is as if a young woman with her boyfriend, or a young man with his girlfriend, were to think: ‘When we are together, when we get married…’” Thus, “God’s ‘dream’: God thinks about each one of us, loves us, dreams of us, dreams of the joy that He will rejoice with us.” And this is why “the Lord wants to ‘re-create us,’ to make our hearts new, to ‘re-create’ our heart in order to make joy triumph.”
All this led the Pope to ask a few questions: “Have you ever thought: the Lord dreams about me? He thinks about me? I am in the mind, in the heart of the Lord? The Lord is capable of changing my life?” Isaiah also tells us, Francis added, that the Lord “makes many plans: ‘We will build houses, plant vineyards, and eat together’: all those plans typical of one in love.” After all, “the Lord shows Himself enamored of His people,” even going so far as to say, “I did not choose you because you are the strongest, the biggest, the most powerful; but I chose you because you are the least of all.” Moreover, “it could be said: the poorest of all. I chose you like this, and this is love.”
The Pope indicated that “this will of the Lord continues, this desire of His to change our life. And we are able to say, if we hear this invitation of the Lord: ‘You have changed my mourning into dancing,’ which are the words that we prayed in Psalm 29. ‘I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me,’ the Psalm also says, thereby acknowledging that the Lord is capable of changing us through love: He is in love with us.”
“I don’t believe any theologian can explain this: it cannot be explained,” Francis remarked. Because this is something “we can only reflect on, feel and cry for joy: the Lord can change us.” He then asked spontaneously: What do I have to do? The answer is simple: “Believe. Believe that the Lord can change me, that He can.” This is exactly what the king’s official in Capernaum did, as told in the Gospel according to John (4:43-54). That man, whose son was ill, asked Jesus “to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” And Jesus replied to him: “Go; your son will live.” Thus, that father “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. He believed. He believed that Jesus had the power to heal his child. And he was right.”
Faith, Francis explained, “is giving space to this love of God; it is making room for the power, for the power of God, for the power of One who loves me, who is in love with me and who wants this joy with me. This is faith. This is believing: it is making room for the Lord to come and change me.”
The Pope concluded with a meaningful annotation: “It is curious: this was the second miracle that Jesus performed. And He did it in the same place where He had performed the first, in Cana in Galilee.” In today’s Gospel passage we read, in fact: “So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.” Again, “in Cana in Galilee He also changed this boy’s death into life.” Truly, Francis said, “the Lord can change us, He wants to change us, He loves to change us. And this, through love.” And He only asks us for “our faith: in other words, to give space to His love so it may act and bring about a change of life in us.”