Last weekend at Mass, Fr. John Riccardo asked the congregation if there was anyone present that wasn’t looking for true happiness. Of course nobody raised their hand! Who isn’t looking for true happiness? Who doesn’t want to be loved and to love? In Genesis 2, we learn what it means to be human. We were made in the image and likeness of God to be in relationship with God and with our neighbor. “It is not good for man to be alone.” We also learn that woman was made to be a helper to man–to help him be human. If you look at all of this in its purest sense, I think it is absolutely the most beautiful thing about marriage and friendships. I have thought about this a lot this week. Being married for almost 22 years, and now a widow, I understand God’s words. They make sense to me. Yet, if God has made us this way, why do we often find it so difficult to be happy or to love? Why do we allow sin to taint our relationships with each other? Why do we fear loving each other and serving each other with full surrender and vulnerability? What would happen if we did? We, meaning, our culture, like to twist love (through rebellion), instead of understanding it as God has meant it to be. Back in November, I was at a Theology of the Body Conference for a week where we were immersed in Genesis 2 for about 8 hours a day. I would say it took me a good day and a half to untwist my mind from the culture. Imagine those who don’t know God—Genesis 2 must seem impossible to understand! However, I believe our culture is searching for God–for authentic, true, pure love, even if we don’t know it.
The question Father posed at the end of his homily was God saying to us, “Will you trust me?” Do we trust God? Do we know that He has our best interests in mind? He gives us gifts, if we would just recognize them. God also gives us free will to make decisions. We are free to choose death(sin) or we are free to choose life. I want to choose life. I want freedom that only God can give. When we choose sin, we choose to rebel, we choose to not love God or our neighbor. Sometimes we are so desperate to be loved, sin becomes our attempt to find love in an improperly ordered way. I’m pretty sure this is not the route to happiness. A while back, I was listening to a Christian speaker say something that will stay with me forever. He said “When sin enters our marriages and we don’t love the way we should or we want to walk away from our marriage, we are saying that God’s power and grace that was given to us in the Sacrament of marriage isn’t strong enough to overcome our trials, our unhappiness–unhappiness that is often (not always) caused by our own selfishness.” God knows our life. God knows that people can change. Circumstances can change. I get that more than most people. But, one thing doesn’t change.. God doesn’t change. Sin rejects God. We reject God. But, the Good News is our sin is never greater than God’s mercy because God is love–always, and forever.
“Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
Loving and gracious God,
Only you know the deepest desires of my heart. And, only you know how to satisfy them. Help me to love with a heart that is pure. Help me to recognize the gifts that you have given me. Don’t let me waste another day being selfish, instead, allow me to serve my family, my friends and my community in ways that reflect Your love. Thank you for teaching me what love is every time I see you nailed to the cross. You are the King of Kings. You are the Lover of my Soul. I love you, Lord, like no other. Yet, I still sometimes fail to trust you. But, every day, I try again and every day, your love remains unchanged. Heal me, Lord, from all my past wounds. Carry me always and never let me feel alone. I pray earnestly for all marriages that have allowed sin and selfishness to invade their home. You have the power to break these chains. Please break them. Heal the division in families because without families, our world seizes to exist. Help me know my mission. My mission starts with my own family. Lord, thank you for your personal call to each of us to live in holiness, to live in love, and to live in true happiness with you. Brian, watch over me from heaven. I need you now more than ever. Amen.