DEVET: A Valentine parable: Will we say ‘yes’?
February 12, 2019
I confess — I’m just a bit bored by hearing over and over, “God loves you, no matter what.” It makes me kind of uneasy when they say, “God loves you just the way you are.” Are you also a bit bored or disquieted hearing these things?
In this “Valentine Season” our thoughts turn lightly to love. A good time to ponder God’s love, what does it mean, and why do we sometimes feel crowded by it? I offer a parable.
Picture this. The Astros have just scored a glorious victory in the seventh game of the 2017 World Series. Star shortstop Carlos Correa is being interviewed on national TV. Suddenly the interview takes a surprise turn, when Carlos turns away from the reporter and toward a beautiful lady standing behind the barrier with other spectators. Carlos takes a knee (in a good sense), and something big and sparkly peeks out of the little black box he holds up. “Daniella Rodriguez, will you marry me!?”
Hands to both cheeks, eyes wide open, mouth agape, she stands for a moment in shock and surprise. “Oh, Carlos, what a beautiful proposal! I will consider it carefully, and let you know.”
“Carlos, you know I love you and you love me. But this is a whole other ball game. You are asking for more than love. You want commitment, for life. I didn’t know this was the ballpark we were playing in. I need to think about it.”
“But Daniella, I love you more than life. I want to commit to you totally, forever.”
“Carlos, I love you too. But I don’t know if I’m ready just yet. I want to travel places, meet new people, maybe have a fling or two before I settle down. And frankly, I might get a better offer. Bregman might propose!”
“But Carlos, your love is so demanding! In promoting my modeling career I might have to do things you wouldn’t like.” Carlos answers, “You’re right, my love is demanding. It requires a straight Yes or a No. I’m gonna have to take your ‘maybe later’ as a ‘No.’ And I’m very sad about it.”
Now, you know what really happened. Daniella pushed the barrier aside and flung herself into his arms with a brilliant smile and an enthusiastic “YES!” And tears of joy fell all across the nation and around the world.
In this parable, Carlos Correa represents Jesus Christ (no kidding!), Daniella represents you and me. Let’s call the first one Waffling Daniella and the second Real Daniella. Which Daniella are we? The Bridegroom is kneeling before us, his little black box offering the Pearl of Great Price, salvation from hell and citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Do we push aside the barriers of bad habits, laziness and sin to fling ourselves into His arms? Or are we the other Daniella?
Why does God’s love make us feel uneasy, or crowded? It’s not that we doubt that it’s real. The problem is His love is all too real. It is freely given, but at the same time demanding at least a clear answer — Yes or No. We say we love God, but we’re uneasy because we know it’s on our own terms.
“Yes, Lord, I love you, but please don’t bother me between Sundays. I have places to go and things to do.” Or we say the prayer of not-yet-saint Augustine: “Lord, make me chaste — just not yet!” We know the sincerity of our ‘Yes’ will be tested: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Lent is just around the corner. A time for the whole Church to repent in sackcloth and ashes — particularly our highest leaders. But you and I are not exempt. Time to take seriously our answer to the Bridegroom’s proposal. Time to overcome waffling. Time to get real.
Joe DeVet is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Family Life Ministry.