MYERS: Accepting God’s abundant love

February 22, 2022

(Fred de Noyelle / Godong)

Not too long ago, I was asked to suggest a theme for a guest speaker to explore with our youth, and without giving it much thought, my answer was immediate. I still have the email, and I said, “a possible topic could be ‘Accepting God’s Love’… it would be a great opportunity for them to reflect on their own relationship with Jesus Christ.”

The teens that usually attend these sessions are there voluntarily, it is not a part of our formation requirements, and they’re generally involved in our parish. Clearly, they are budding disciples of Christ, but I had the innate drive to reiterate to them that they are given God’s love freely and consistently.

Knowing the Lord as we do, it is easy to proclaim God’s love, mercy and generosity. The Holy Spirit often gives us the right words to evangelize in a way that leaves us to wonder when we learned/heard/absorbed so much of our faith that we can share it with others. Our minds and hearts connect in a way that allows us to respond to a question we get from a curious youth, even when we didn’t realize we knew the answer.

It is much harder to accept God’s love, mercy and generosity for ourselves. I’ve heard it from teens, young adults and even faithful adults: there are things I’ve done, things that God wouldn’t like. My answer is always simple and true. God loves you. God knows you wholly and loves you wholly.

There was a romantic comedy I watched when I was in college, and there was a recurring theme of “you are not the exception, you are the rule” with regards to relationships. In this story, some characters were the exception, and some characters were the rule. It was cute, and I rewatch it every now and again. What I didn’t expect to take away from the film was the truth of “you are not the exception” nor that I would use it as a defense of faith.

Lamentations 3:22 tells us, “The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent.” We believe fully in the Lord’s mercy, and so we must believe in it for ourselves too. God doesn’t exclude anyone from that love, mercy or compassion. It’s why we pray for people we disagree with or simply don’t understand. It’s why we pray for misguided people and those who have fallen away from the Church.

As disciples of Christ, we should also accept that love, which we receive in abundance. We experience God’s love when we receive the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. It is our constant reminder, perfectly quoted in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

We experience that love in reconciliation, where we are freely forgiven for our faults. Because the Lord is compassionate with us, we too must be compassionate, especially with ourselves.

We experience God’s love in the people we encounter, in those that love us, and in those who challenge us.
In Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis says, “Faith’s understanding is born when we receive the immense love of God which transforms us inwardly and enables us to see reality with new eyes.”

Here’s a challenge to help transform the way we seek God’s love. Take time this month, as we approach Lent, to examine your relationship with Jesus Christ. Work on communication, pray with intention and not out of routine. Go to reconciliation out of a desire to experience God’s love and mercy. Go to Mass, and instead of going through the motions, focus on the Consecration, the source and summit of our faith. Acknowledge, accept and reflect upon the gift of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, which was given out of love for you and me.

My prayer for you is from Ephesians 3:17-19, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” 

Sarai Myers is the coordinator of Youth Evangelization and Catechesis at St. Edward Catholic Church in Spring.