Not so confidential
I am going to tell you a big secret. God loves you. Ok, it is not really a secret, because you have probably heard it at least once before, and likely a lot more. So why do we act as if God’s love for us is confidential?
If this is the real truth, that God loves us, and that God loves everyone, why is it that all to often we act as if this was not true? We doubt ourselves, we tell ourselves we are no good, we focus on our shortcomings and failures. But the truth is, from all eternity, God has loved us.
Listen again to the powerful words God speaks to Jeremiah. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” For all eternity Jeremiah has been loved by God, dedicated, made a prophet. But that is not all. For all eternity you and I have been loved by God.
Think about this for a moment. Let it sink in. From all eternity you and I have been loved by God. For all eternity. There has never existed a moment where God has not loved you and I. Ever. But, wait, there’s more.
Not only have we been loved for all eternity. We were loved for a purpose. From all eternity God knew his plan for us. God knew how it is we could be set apart for a tremendous and powerful task. For. All. Eternity.
But wait, there’s still more. God gives us the grace so that we can discover that plan. While we can make it seem confidential, God does not keep it a secret. We can know and discover that plan because that is what God wants for us. God does not want this to be confidential. He wants us, all of us, to know this.
Does God Love Me?
And yet, despite all these assurances, we can still wonder whether or not God really loves me. “If God only knew me and what I can do”, we say. God does and God loves you. If God only knew my faults and failings. God does and God loves you. If God only . . . Why do we seek so many reasons to think that God does not love us? God loves us.
Does God love me? I would argue that more than anything else said in the bible, the overall message is about the love of God that He has for each one of us. God loves us. God shows us his mercy because he loves us. He tells us over and over again not to be afraid because he loves us.
And yet we still ask, “Does God love me?” Why? Because we are broken. We are sinful. Deep within us we know our brokenness, but due to the pain our brokenness causes we sometimes try to hide it by convincing ourselves that we deserve it.
But . . .
We Know God Loves Us Because of the Dignity He Gave Us
While we may be broken because we have sinned, we are not broken beyond repair. God can heal our brokenness. God can forgive our sins. We are never so far away from God that God cannot remind us of his closeness to us.
Because of the loving power of God, and the grace of God, there is no limit to what can be done, because with God all things are possible. Because God loves you, you are never alone. The loving power of God reminds each of us that God will see us through whatever happens. And with the grace of God, we will find ourselves more and more able to see our God-given dignity.
This is the dignity we celebrate for Catholic Schools Week. We recognize that every student deserves an education. But every student deserves to be in an environment that teaches them just how much it is they are loved by God.
Every child also deserves to know that God has a plan in their life, and that God will pour out the grace so that they can discover that plan in their lives. In the United States, Catholic schools were founded to help educate scores of immigrants being forced to choose between school and faith. At the time of saints like Saint John Baptist de la Salle, he wanted every child, even the most poor, to be educated. And he wanted the brothers to be taught in the art of teaching.
Love is the Greatest
At the end of the second reading Saint Paul tells us the greatest of the theological virtues is love. Why? Certainly faith and hope are great virtues too. How is it that we could even choose among the theological virtues?
Love is the greatest virtue because love will last forever. Those who are saved in heaven will have no need for faith, for they will be in the presence of God. Hope is the virtue that we exercise when we can look to the future at the great things God will do.
But once a person is in heaven, there will only be exercised one virtue, the virtue of love. In the presence of God, there is no longer need for faith, because the presence of God removes all doubt. There is no need for hope because every good thing we could hope for has been realized. There is no longing for anything in the future because we are completely fulfilled in the presence of God.
But for us here on earth, there is still the need for faith and hope. But it is in loving we recognize the image and likeness of God, the image and likeness in which we were created. On earth we have faith in God for those times we find it hard to believe. We exercise hope when we find ourselves longing for the full presence of God.
Don’t Keep It Confidential: Share!
And so if we are to hear the word of God as Jeremiah did, then we need to commit to sharing to each other what God in His love has done for each one of us. And if we accept God’s love, open ourselves to God’s loving presence, then nothing is hidden, because the news to just too good to keep to ourselves.