Today, we hear in the famous Gospel passage that God so loved the world that he sent his only Begotten Son, that through Christ, God was able to communicate and continues still to communicate that wondrous love he has for all of us. For you Greek scholars, the word used here is ‘agape,’ a love which is quite different from ‘eros’ or ‘filia’. ‘Eros’ is an erotic love, a love that you fall into almost as a result of an arrow from cupid. ‘Filia’ is a kind of friendship and relationship that two people have exclusively for one another. The love of God is ‘agape’ because His love is like the sun whose light radiates on both saint and sinner alike. It is radically unconditional and self-emptying, and although much of the world may turn away from His rays, it does not negate how the Son continues to shine forth upon us.
I think it is fitting during this Easter season that we contemplate the ‘agape’ of God, and indeed this is an important reflection for us as men rooted in the Spiritual Exercises. In the fourth week, we are challenged and called into that important contemplation to attain love, which I believe is more specifically a contemplation to attain ‘agape.’ In one of my favorite lines of Hopkins poetry, he writes: “Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.” During this joyous season, God easters forth his ‘agape’ to us all. We are called to be disciples of Christ, to let our light shine forth unto the world in His imitation.
For the remainder of this time, I would invite you to pray with me briefly as I touch on the points Ignatius has us contemplate in the fourth week. Let us place ourselves in the presence of the angels and saints, that stirred to profound gratitude for the love God has given to us, we may become better able to love and serve Christ and the world.
Two preliminary notes: first, love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words. Second, love consists in a mutual communication. God is the lover, and we, the world, are the beloved.
First point: Let us consider how much God has given us. All of us here are very talented individuals each with our particular God-given gifts. What are those unique and important gifts in your life? What gifts do we take for granted? Which gifts need to be cherished? How can I best use my gifts and offer them up for the greater glory of God?
Second point: Let us consider how God dwells in the world and gives all things their existence, their life, sensation, and intelligence. Without God, we would literally be nothing. We are all temples of the living God, created in the likeness and image of his Divine Majesty. Can we see ourselves as God’s temple? Are we able to see how God dwells in each other? Can we find God dwelling here in the Bronx, hard as that may seem?
Third point: Let us consider how God continues to labor in the world. God is active in the world and in our lives. God is not simply a concept to be grasped, but is that mysterium tremendum et fascinans who dares to be in active relationship with all of us. How is God currently active in our lives? Can we see how God is laboring in our world and in creation?
Fourth point: Let us consider how all good things come to us like the rays from the sun. God is the light of the world; whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
In all of these points, we reflect upon ourselves and consider how we cannot help but respond to this ‘agape’ of God for all of us. What have we done for Christ? What are we doing for Christ? What will we do for Christ?
We conclude as one making an offering with deep affection:
“Take Lord, receive, all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will.
Whatsoever I have or hold
You have given me.
I give it all back to you and surrender it,
Wholly to be governed by your will.
Give me only your love and your grace
And I am rich enough, and I ask for nothing more.
In the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy spirit.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Ever since I began my blog, I have been in the habit of posting my once-a-semester Mass reflections. I primarily write these with my Jesuit brothers in mind as they are my immediate audience, but perhaps you may find something of value here. God bless.