The Church Contemplates God’s Heart
“He has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then, can respond with love.” -Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 17
Over the history of the Church, there have been many strong intellectual minds that have left us with ideas and thoughts to reflect upon. In more recent times, one such theologian is our previous Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, he writes: “He has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then, can respond with love.”
Do you ever read the words of Scripture or Church documents and almost immediately feel uncomfortable? Perhaps you start internally squirming around in your soul, knowing something is about to challenge you right out of complacency or rouse your spirit. I feel that way when I sit with these words about the fundamental truth that God is love.
We can only love because it was God who first loved us into existence and physical being. Our ability to love other people has not nothing to do with our own efforts. We cannot will ourselves to love others by our own power. It has absolutely everything to do with God our Father freely loving us first. And because God freely and firstly loved us, we are able to love others as a response to being loved by God.
I find myself challenged by this, perhaps wrestling a bit with the Lord. Not because I believe I am unlovable, but because sometimes I think I can will myself to love people if I just try harder. The lie of spiritual perfectionism is one I work to correct in my own soul—the sacred tension of doing and being. Undoing the lie that I can do anything in the spiritual life by simply trying harder is a constant journey for me.
Our ability to love does not come from anything we do on our own. Let’s start with allowing Jesus to first love us, and then ask Him to teach us how to love better.Our ability to love other people has not nothing to do with our own efforts... It has absolutely everything to do with God our Father freely loving us first. #BISblog #prayerpledge // Click To Tweet
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Let Us Pray
Jesus, the spiritual sickness of striving and trying to do it all on our own is exhausting. Teach us more deeply what it is to be loved by You. For knowing Your love is the catalyst that helps us love each other the way You love us. Amen.
Who are the people in your life that have shown you how to love?
And who are the people God has placed in your life to teach you how to love more like Him?In His Heart: The 2020 Prayer Pledge // Day 8 #BISblog #prayerpledge // Click To Tweet
Patty Breen is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a full-time lay minister who finds joy in running, strong cups of coffee, and all things Ignatian spirituality. A Midwestern gal from the mitten state, she is constantly learning to find grace in all things. She is passionate about ministry to divorced Catholics and women whose relationships have been impacted by sexual addiction. You can find out more about her here.