“Whoever is without love does not know God, for god is love“1JN 4:8
The heart of the Gospel is that God is all love and that God loves each of us immensely and unconditionally. Accepting God`s personal love is a life-changing experience. God loves me, God loves you! Our Creator loves us! The God of the universe loves me!
The early Christians used to repeat: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16).
A spirituality of communion begins with this basic experience, the rediscovery and acceptance of God`s personal love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). God`s love, then, should be at the heart of every Christian experience. The discovery of God`s love makes us realize that we are all brothers and sisters in this world and that our loving Father loves every person we meet. But God`s love also calls for a response of love. It calls for a deep and profound choice: to have God at the first place in our life. It is what the Bible tells us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk 12:30).
In the spirituality of communion we do not keep our discovery of God`s love to ourselves. We want to shout out with our life and share this Good News of God`s love with everyone.
“God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him”1JN 4:16
A Key Experience
Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the Focolare Movement, officially known as Work of Mary, tells us her experience of how putting in practice God`s love changed her life.
“I was still in school. A priest was passing through… he wanted to have a word with me. He asked me to offer up an hour of my day for his intentions. I answered, “Why not the entire day?” Struck by such youthful generosity… he told me, “Remember that God loves you immensely.” That was a blinding light. “God loves me immensely!” I told my friends: “God loves you immensely. God loves us immensely.”
From that moment on I saw God present everywhere with his love: at day-time, during the night, in my enthusiasm, in my resolutions, in events that were joyful and comforting, in situations that proved to be sad, awkward or difficult.
He is always there, he is present everywhere, and he explains things to me. What does he explain? That everything, all that I am and all that regards me is love. All that we are and all that regards us is love. That I am his child and that he is my Father. That nothing escapes his love, not even the mistakes I make, because he permits them; that his love envelopes all Christians like myself; that it embraces the whole Church, the world and the entire universe. And he sustains me and opens my eyes to see everything and everyone as expressions of his love.”
“This may sound as a heresy, but it is the greatest truth! It is more difficult to let God love us, than to love him! The best way to love him in return is to open our hearts and let him love us. Let him draw close to us and feel him close to us. This is really very difficult: letting ourselves be loved by him.”
“If we act like children of God, knowing that he loves us, our lives will be made new, filled with serenity and joy.” – Pope Francis
“St. Francis of Assisi wanted to be poor of everything in order to have only God.
He prayed: “My God and my all.”
St. Theresa of the Child Jesus prayed: “You know my God that to love you I only have today.” This prayer helps us understand her way to holiness – taking advantage of every moment, of every opportunity, even the smallest. She completely abandoned herself into the arms of God the Father, with the certainty that he is love!
Anyone who hears God`s call often feels fear and doubts, but when he discovers its implications, he also feels joy. So the most beautiful moment is not when a person hears the call, but when he says “yes,” making God`s call real, and his will adhering to God`s. It is an allegiance for life, a continual “yes” to God who repeats the invitation for ever. – Fr. Pasquale Foresi
Points to share in a small group
- When in my life did I first realize God`s personal love for me, and for my neighbour?
- Does God`s love for me depend on what I do or what I am?
- Now that I know how much God loves me, what can I do?
- What has been my experience of instilling an awareness of God`s personal love in people I care for?
- Daily examination of conscience: Do I forget that God still personally loves me when I have the misfortune of sinning, or experience suffering of any kind?
An experience on sharing God’s Love
A few days ago, when I was at school, I saw a girl from another section who looked very serious. I approached her and asked if I could help her in any way. Lucy then told me about her sadness: she has no mom or dad, and seeing that summer holidays were coming up, she realized that again she would have to spend these months at the boarding school. I didn`t know what to say; I had no words of consolation. We left one another then, but I often thought of her.
An idea came to me: I wrote her a letter telling her what I would have told myself had I been in that same situation, “God loves you, and this cross is nothing other than the love of God for me.” I thought that if she believed in love in this circumstance, she would receive many graces. From now on she would not be alone in her suffering because I would be sharing it with her.
I then found what seemed to be the most opportune moment to give her my letter. Afterwards, many thoughts came to my mind: would Lucy understand? Does she believe in God? Would she think my letter to be a little crazy? Would she make fun of me? Would she tell me that I can`t understand her because I have never been in such a situation?
The next day Lucy came to me with a joyful face. She hugged me, she started to cry. She told me she had spent the whole night awake, thinking about what I had written her, and that she had read the letter over and over again.
The sentence “God loves you” had really touched her deeply. She then began to love as well and from then on never again felt alone.
What can I do?
Try to put into practice what you have learned today. Then at the next group meeting share your Gospel experiences with the others – one or two episodes when you were able to experience God`s personal love for you or for your neighbours – as a gift.