Fr. James DiLuzio CSP
In Frances Hodgson Burnett’s THE LITTLE PRINCESS
- Miss Minchin is a hard taskmaster – bullies and demeans young Sarah Crew, assigns her most difficult household duties with no help from other girls in the boarding house
- Worse: in rare moments of free time with her friends, Sarah emits such joy and wonder of the world around her. Whenever Miss Minchin comes upon her, she stifles all the fun.
- Finally, one day, breaking her demure, respectful, demeanor, Sarah Crew cries out, “Why are you so mean? Didn’t anyone ever love you? Had you no parent, no one to treat you with kindness?”
- Too often people think of God as a demanding task master
- We hear of the Commandments, and we think of all that we must do to live up to them
- When we are in that mindset, Faith can feel like a chore, a barrier to JOY. No wonder so many young people do not take the time to explore it
- They do not understand that the biblical passages of an angry God were just a metaphor for the seriousness of the situations people get themselves in, and the terrible consequences of sin.
- People do not understand as Saint Irenaeus (a French Bishop of the early 2nd Century) wrote “The Glory of God is every human person fully alive!”
- They do not recall what the disciple of the Apostle John wrote in his New Testament Letter to the Church: “God is love, and whoever remains in love, remains in God, and God in him.”
- This is an extraordinary proclamation. It goes further than the biblical statements that affirm “God is ‘loving. “GOD IS LOVE.” (1 JOHN 4) represents a tremendous spiritual development. It cries out to us today as the true underpinnings of the Ten Commandments.
- The more we allow “GOD IS LOVE” –and God CERTAINLY IS as manifested and revealed by Jesus –TO PERMEATE OUR CONSCIENCES, OUR INTELLECT, OUR HEARTS, THE MORE WE BEGIN TO LIVE, because this love is more than a feeling, far greater than any human emotion or sentiment. It is a deep reality- high as the heavens and deep as the sea.
- When we are steadfast, secure, and cemented in a foundation of GODLOVE, the Commandments and the Sacraments make more sense. They are not tasks to perform, they are not “holy obligations:” but expressions of GRATITIUDE to God, to Jesus—for the Holy Spirit within and around us. We have come today for gratitude. YES, we may feel distracted, chagrined, impartial to our choice of being here today. Nevertheless, we made the choice for LOVE. Dwell in that love NOW. Allow gratitude to take root.
- This week I invite you to take out a photo of yourself from your infancy or childhood – a photo in which JOY is evident in you. Ponder how that JOY is part of GOD, and how God expresses LOVE for you –past, present, and future (whether you are conscious of it or not.)
- Place the photo on your night table, or in your office, or in your prayer nook, or fix it in your mind throughout your day, and pray with it, give thanks to God for it, for YOU. Let NO ONE TAKE THAT FROM YOU. No matter another person’s state of mind, no matter his or her inappropriate, disrespectful, hurtful behavior. No matter the imperfection of their love. Concretized in GOD LOVE, miracles happen – it becomes fascinatingly easier to see GODLOVE in and for another. Allow that photo of you to imagine a comparable photo of them. See if that reforms the situation, see if your feelings change.
- As Saint Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (8:39): Nothing separates us “from the love of God that comes to us in Jesus Christ.” We must not let others separate us from GODLOVE reality. Indeed, NO! We may, however, bring GODLOVE to them.
- “Thank you GODLOVE! Make us trust in You always for YOU LOVED US FIRST! In Love, You created us. In Love we are sustained. In love, we hope. In love, we forgive because we forever are forgiven. In Love, we truly LIVE! I believe that warrants a life of thanksgiving. Do you?
FYI: Four Kinds of Love in Greek
(GREEK: ἔρως) Romantic love; erotic desire; intimacy; infatuation with another’s beauty.
(GREEK: φɩλία) Brotherly love; friendship; affectionate regard for and loyalty to friends, family, and community, requiring virtue, equality, and familiarity.
(GREEK: στοργή) Familial love; affection; natural empathy for one’s family, country, or team.
(GREEK: ἀγάπη) Unconditional, self-sacrificial love; charity; God’s unconditional, self-sacrificial love for humankind and humankind’s love for a good God and for others.