Not So Unlovable

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Reading 1 Is 49:8-15

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains,
and make my highways level.
See, some shall come from afar,
others from the north and the west,
and some from the land of Syene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
break forth into song, you mountains.
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.

But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me."
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18

R. (8a) The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Verse Before the Gospel Jn 11:25a, 26

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.

Gospel Jn 5:17-30

Jesus answered the Jews:
"My Father is at work until now, so I am at work."
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.

"I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me."
- - -
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

I slid into the pew before the Blessed Sacrament, woeful and heavy-hearted. I needed to go to Confession but hadn’t yet had the chance. I’d come to pray, but sat enveloped in shame, imagining God’s eyes boring straight through to my inner ugliness. How could I deign to worship Him, knowing what I’d done?

But slowly, I understood it was my own eyes condemning me. God? He gazed down gently and lovingly, prodding me to lift my gaze to Him in return. Tears welled up as I sensed Him saying, Even this can’t stop My love for you. All I could do was sit there feeling wholly unworthy and undeserving as Unconditional Love wrapped His arms around me.

This was the first of two recent revelations that drove home the depth and realness of God’s personal love.

The other came during Mass one day when I was aching over the evil in our world. Suddenly, God revealed to me a deeper understanding of the Passion: it was not just for my sins that He willingly suffered His crushing, agonizing sacrifice—it was for every known and unknown evil, every horrific war and atrocity and soul wound, past, present, and future—all at the same instant in time.

And He took it all on, experienced every last bit, for love of us.

The readings today express this Divine Love in some beautiful language. Yet sometimes the scriptural examples of maternal love and healing still feel distant. We believe these truths for others while exempting ourselves, thinking we’re unlovable “as is.” We extol God’s love for others only to limit and qualify our lovability with, “but me . . . I’ve done this—and I don’t do that.”

To accept such Love we need to become confident in it. In these two revelations, God held out “proof,” pouring out the assurances He longs for all of us to accept.

And when we’re injured by sin, He picks us up—literally bleeding with Love—so we won’t have to walk that dark valley alone. Because in His passion, He’s already walked every last dark valley of bullying, betrayal, disgrace, slander, abuse, persecution, and death—to support us through it and redeem us from it.

All because we’re so eternally loveable.

Mediate for 5 minutes today on all the ways God pursues you in Love.

Megan Hjelmstad is a wife and mom 24/7 and an Army Reservist in her “spare” time. She’s a bibliophile, tea drinker, sleep lover, and avid admirer of Colorado’s great outdoors. When the writing bug hits, you can find out more about her here.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Tanya Hielke
    March 14, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Lovely reflection, thank you so much.

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