by Fr Duncan McVicar on 10/01/2016 -
Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy. This is an opportunity for us to rediscover the mercy of a loving Father-God. The Holy Father is inviting each of us to make mercy a focal point of our spirituality and our lives. Are we open for mercy? Have we been the hands and feet of God, the living embodiment of his mercy to those around us? Pope Francis has called for this special Year of Mercy because he wants us to connect on a personal level with the merciful Father in our own lives.
How do we imagine God? If someone asked us to describe God, or describe God’s most basic characteristics, what would we say? Would we, for example, immediately declare that God, for each one of us, is a Father of love, a Father of mercy? Would we say, for example, that God’s greatest motivation for everything that he does in the world and in our lives has always been, and will always be, his unconditional and boundless love for us? The universal law of love is the endless love of God. This is the reason for all reasons. At the end of the day, everything that God does and everything he intends for our lives is based on the power of love. Everything that comes from him, comes because of love, through love and for love.
If this is true, if love is the ultimate motivation for God, then we have to see it as our special mission and our special task to also make this universal law of love into our ultimate motivation – not only in our personal lives, but in our spiritual growth and development. The Church has always believed that God is a merciful Father; the Church has always proclaimed that mercy and the love of God, in one way and another, is God’s most essential attribute. What perhaps is “new” in this Year of Mercy – or better said, what perhaps is revealing itself in a more powerful way – is how unconditional this merciful love is, and how boundless and all-embracing this love of God for each one of us is. Perhaps we have believed in God’s love for us up till now, but we’ve also combined it very strongly with the reality of justice. This often brings about the feeling and the personal experience, that if we wish to experience and share the love of God in our own lives, then we have to earn or merit that love. We cannot earn God’s mercy – it is freely given to us even when we don’t deserve it and, if we are honest, we don’t deserve it most of the time.
Of course, every day we have to get up and start again and try to realise the will of God and try our best to connect ourselves to God for that day. But we have to be careful that we don’t over-emphasise our human contribution in our relationship to God – in other words, if anything is going to happen, it all depends on me. This Year of Mercy, is trying to emphasise how God, our merciful Father, and his merciful love, is active and present in our lives – he makes the biggest contribution. God does not love us because we have been good or because we have got everything right with not one, single mistake; he loves simply because he is our Father – he has always loved us and he will always love us, no matter what. He wants his merciful love to flow unhindered through our lives and our actions; he wants us to accept and say confidently our “yes” to our limitations, our sinfulness and our weaknesses, and to really believe that our inner poverty is not an obstacle to getting close to Him, but our weaknesses and our sinfulness can actually be the “open door” to sharing God’s merciful love even more, and being able to receive his merciful love even more.
It is so important, in our own spirituality and in our daily lives to recognise and to remember and also to rediscover the universal law of love. What is the universal law of love? Everything that God does, everything that he says, everything that he allows to happen in our lives has a motivation, a purpose and a reason. And if we search for that reason, if we look for that reason – for example, why did he create the world, why is the world a place where he wants to be present, why does he guide us, why does he want to save us? Why did he send Jesus Christ to be our Saviour and die to set us free? All these questions, and many more, all go back to the ultimate reason – the reason for all reasons – and that is because of love. That is God’s ultimate motivation, and that is why he allows certain things to happen in the way that they happen, he does it all out of love. That is, in essence, the universal law of love. It is the answer to the question what is the ultimate motivation of God – what is the reason for God’s actions and activity and presence in this world. And the answer is because he loves us – he’s only motivated by love, and his love inspires everything else that is in God – for example, his mercy, his justice, his wisdom, etc. This applies, not only in the great events or in the great questions of creation and the world around us. The universal law of love also applies to us personally. Why do we experience what we experience? Why does God allow this to happen in our lives? Why is our family going through this? At the end of the day, God’s motivation in our own personal lives is also the universal law of love.
The universal law of love includes God’s endless love to each one of us, but also includes a response of love to God. These are the two essential sides of the universal law of love. It includes God’s divine love and also includes our human love. God says to each one of us: “Everything because of love, everything through love, and everything for love”. And each one of us should also say in response to God: “I will try every day to do everything because of love, everything through love, and everything for love”.
This has deep consequences would each one of us. This has implications for our spiritual life and our daily living. It basically means, that we too should try every day to do everything out of love. We are also called, through our Baptism and through the fact that we are sons and daughters of God, that we apply the universal law of love in our own lives. And when we do this the powerful stream of love that comes from God originally and flows through the hearts of every single human person and our world, will flow even more and will flow unhindered. That’s why we can speak about the massive stream of life and love that comes from God and then flows through every human heart, uniting as altogether and bringing us all in communion with each other – and then ultimately returning to its source, to God, our merciful Father. [Taken from Talks of Father Joseph Kentenich, Founder of the Schoenstatt Movement]
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