“Our lives are about trying to imitate the God we believe in. But, we are so used to the ‘One-False-Move’ God we’re not accustomed to the ‘No-Matter-What-ness’ of God: the God who is too busy loving us to be disappointed with us! This is the hardest thing to believe, yet everybody knows it is the truest thing we can say about God.” (Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ)
No matter who you are, what you believe, what you have done, if you go to church or not, you ARE loved. There is little you can do about that. In fact, there is NOTHING you can do about that. It is simply not in your power to change God’s love for you. It is impossible, like turning off the sun.
God’s love for us is not PART of the message – it is the ONLY message of Christianity. All the rest is maintenance, details, sinking in, and our response to this affection. God waits, with eager anticipation, for us to ‘get it’ – for us to receive this good news in our bones and to live out of this loving acceptance and flourish from it like a flower thrives on water.
If our weekend Masses are genuine celebrations of this good news then we need not use obligation or fear of hell to draw others in. We don’t even need a clever marketing scheme. Pope Francis says that “sourpuss” Christians (those that “have the face of a pickled pepper”) who do not communicate the joy of being loved by God do great harm to the witness of the church. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction.”
So what are we to do? Well, seems at the very least we should be joyful. At our best, if we have truly taken hold of God’s love for us with no small bit of tenacity and courage then people would see this love effecting the way we live and the choices we make and it would be infectious (like the old saying “Faith is caught, not taught.”).
If we fully live out of this love in which we believe and are joyful, powerful people, in the best sense – changing the world with our response to God’s love – our neighbors at the grocery store will start asking each other “What in the world are those Christ the Redeemer people ON anyway? Curiosity alone would be bringing people to our door wondering why all of us are so danged hopeful, free, and generous – and more than a bit extravagant in all those things because that which we have received is so lavish, unbridled, and extravagant.
It’s not about plastering a fake, happy smile on our face. Happiness is rare and fleeting. Rather God’s love brings a joy that is a solid, stable disposition that comes from knowing who we are and that our lives have meaning no matter the circumstances we currently face. Joy comes from knowing that we belong, that we matter and even though things may sometimes look rather bleak, our decision to love DOES make a difference.
With That Moon Language (by Hafiz, 14th Century Poet)
Admit something: Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud; Otherwise, someone would call the cops.
Still though, think about this…this great pull in us to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language, what every other eye in this world is dying to hear….