Identifying the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

In John’s Gospel there is mention of “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” This disciple (an apostle really) is never mentioned by name. However it is universally accepted by biblical scholars both ancient and modern, by the Church Fathers as well that this beloved disciple is in fact the Apostle John himself who writes the gospel. In the gospel itself John (or more likely a later editor who attached a postscript) tips his hand when at John 21:24 the text says regarding the “disciple who Jesus loved,”  This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true

I would not dream of over-ruling such a consensus that the Beloved Disciple is John  but I want to suggest to you that there is something more at work here than the identity of one man to fill this role.

With the exception of the verse I quoted just above, the exact identity of the beloved disciple is not supplied and John 21:24 just cited seems to have been added later most likely by the Johannine Community at Ephesus for the subject switches to “we” and refers to the beloved disciple as “he.”

John himself prefers to leave the beloved disciple unnamed. Perhaps this is humility. Or, perhaps his experience of being loved by the Lord was more precious to him than his name. It is almost as if when asked his name he might respond: “I am the one whom Jesus loves” instead of giving his name. In fact John never uses his name to refer to himself anywhere in his gospel. What is clear is that John knew and experienced that he was loved by God and that was apparently all that mattered to him in terms of his identity. This would also help to explain that this title was not an attestation that the Lord had favorites. Jesus himself does not use this title for John or any of the apostles. This is merely John’s self description of the fact that he was loved by the Lord and he knew that personally.

But the final thing I want to suggest to you, if you are prepared to accept it,  is that John’s deeper purpose for not supplying the name of the beloved disciple is so that you will understand and experience in a very true sense that the beloved disciple is YOU. You are the disciple whom Jesus loves. You are the one who reclines next to the Lord at the Last Supper and first Mass (jn 13:23). You are the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross to whom the Lord said, “Behold your mother” (John 19:26). You are the beloved disciple who runs to the tomb and comes to faith (Jn 20: 8). You are the beloved disciple who announces to others, “It is the Lord” (Jn 21:7). You are the Disciple who follows after the Lord and Peter (Jn 21:20). The beloved disciple, if you are prepared to accept it,  is you.

Why All This???

Look above you. Why all this?? Why such a large universe, billions of galaxies with billions of stars each?  Perhaps one solar system would have been sufficient. Look around you. Why all this?? Not one species of bird, but thousands.  Tens of thousands of kinds of animals and birds. The sea is filled with a massive variety of fish and other sea life. Billions of people with amazing variety, each with their own story. Why all this???

What if the answer is love? God is love and love seeks to share with others. Love seeks union and manifests beauty. Love is extravagant and ever expansive.

Science can say “what”  and some of the “how”  but it cannot answer “why.”  But God has writ the answer all around us in an extravagant and magnificent cosmos. We and all things exist by his extravagent love.

Why all this? Love! Behold the magnificence of all things and that of your very self. Only love would do all this. Only love.

What if we are surrounded by love?

Here is a nice video from The Life After Sunday Website

Praying for a Broken and Humble Heart: A Meditation on Love of the Sinful Woman (Luke 7)

The Lord links our love for him in terms of our awareness of our sin and our experiencing of having been forgiven: But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little (Luke 7:47)

I. The Pharisaical Problem – He said this in the house of a Pharisee named Simon. Now the Pharisees had reduced holiness to the observance of a rather precise and technical code of 613 precepts. Many of these were minor observances such at the purifying of jugs and cups, following a “Kosher” diet, and observing a myriad of Sabbath rules. Others were more weighty, involving fasts and prayer observances, paying tithes etc. But I hope you can see the absurdity of reducing holiness to a code of a mere 613 precepts. Jesus often excoriated the Pharisees for their intricate observances of the minute details while they neglected weightier matters of justice and failed to love others, see them as brethren or lift a finger to help them find God. Instead they were famous for simply writing off others with scorn and regarding them with contempt. Their arrogance troubled Jesus greatly.

At the heart of their self deception was the notion that they could be righteous on their own, that sin was something that did not touch them. They were “self-righteous.” That is, they considered themselves to be righteous on their own and that by simple human effort they had eradicated sin and were free of it. Again, it is hoped that you can see the absurdity of this. But notice that the delusion first involved a severely dumbed-down notion of holiness, reducing the matter to 613 rules. Then, if you try and put a little effort, presto – you’re “holy,”  righteous, and without sin.

The Sadducees, the scribes and other Temple leaders also had similar minimalist notions. A rather memorable interaction took place between Jesus and one of the Scribes in Luke 10. They were discussing the Commandment to Love God and your neighbor as yourself. In effect the Scribe, like a true lawyer, wants to minimize the whole thing and keep the commandment manageable so as Luke reports: But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”(Lk 10:29). Notice, he wanted  to justify himself. This is want is meant by the notion of self-righteousness, to be righteous by my own power. But in order to pull off the self justification he first needs to make the loving of one’s neighbor more minimal and manageable. So he enters into a negotiation of sorts with Jesus to dumb down  the whole thing. Jesus does not take the bait but goes on to tell his famous Parable of the Good Samaritan which teaches that my neighbor whom  I must love is an expansive category that leaps beyond, family, local community, even nation. But here was the Pharisaical, tendency also shared by the Sadducees, Scribes and Temple Leaders: I can be holy on my own, I can be without sin if I just follow a set of rules. If that is the case, who needs a savior? Who needs Jesus? Who needs God to save him? It is the law which saves and all I have to do is follow it in the narrowest and most restricted sense and I am sinless. Or so they thought.

II. Our Personal Participation in the Problem  – Now, before you rush to scoff at the Pharisees be careful on two counts.

1. The Pharisees were a large religious group in Israel and like any large religious group there were varying interpretations and experiences of the Pharisee philosophy. Not every one was as cartoonishly absurd in their thinking as I have described. Some were however (e.g. in Luke above, and Simon the Pharisee in today’s Gospel) and all the members of the Pharisee movement had the tendencies described due to their minimalistic notions of holiness.

2. But more importantly don’t rush to scoff because we have ourselves  have become very Pharisaical in modern times. There is a widespread tendency today to exonerate ourselves from sin or at least to diminish any notion that we are a sinner. We have done this in several ways.

First, we have been through a long period in the Church where clergy and catechists have soft-pedaled sin. Talking about sin sin was “negative” and we should be more “positive.” After all if we talk about sin too much “people might get angry or hurt and we want our parish to be a warm and welcoming community.” Or so the thinking goes.

Second, there is the tendency to evade responsibility. “I’m not responsible, my mother dropped me on my head when I was two…..I need therapy, I went to public school etc. .”  This may be true but it does not mean we have no sin.

Third, and perhaps the most Pharisaical thing we have done is to reduce holiness to “being nice.” All that matters in the end is that we’re “nice.” Go ahead and shack up, fornicate, skip Mass, dissent from any number of Biblical and Church teachings, have numerous divorces, and be unforgiving of your family members (after all that’s a “private” matter). But as long as you’re “generally a nice person” everything is OK.  At least the Pharisees had 613 rules. We have only one: “be nice.”  Now here too I do not say this of everyone. But in a very widespread way we are like the Pharisees, completely out of touch with our sinfulness and desperate need for God’s mercy. “What me a sinner? – How dare you! I am basically a good (i.e. nice) person” as though that were all that mattered.  Or so the thinking goes. And let a priest or deacon get in a pulpit and talk tough about sin to some congregations and watch the letters go off to the Bishop or the priest be called negative.

III. Our Prescribed Perspective – In today’s Gospel Jesus tells a Parable about two people who had a debt which neither could repay. Note carefully, neither could repay. That is to say, both were sinners and neither one can save them self of be righteous on their own. The debt is beyond their ability. One had a large debt, the other a smaller one. It is a true fact that some on this planet are greater sinners than others. Moral equivalency is wrong. Mother Teresa was surely more holy than Joseph Stalin. (Nevertheless, even Mother Teresa had a debt she couldn’t pay and would be the first to affirm that she was a sinner in need of God’s great mercy). Now since neither of the people in the parable  could repay they both sought mercy. Who is more grateful? Obviously the one who was forgiven the larger amount.

The paradoxical font of love – But pay attention to the way Jesus words it: “Which of them loves him [the creditor] more?” (Lk 7:42). The one who love more is the one who is forgiven more. This is why today’s dismissal of sin is so serious. In effect we deny or minimize our debt and the result is that we love God less. Notice that, while many sectors of the Church have soft-pedaled any preaching about sin and emphasized a self-esteem message, our Churches have emptied. Only 27% of Catholics go to Mass in this country. It is worse in Europe. Obviously love for God has grown cold. As we have lost touch with our debt, we have less love for  the one who alone can forgive it. We no longer seek him and we love him only tepidly and in a distant manner. Jesus says it plainly (and it would seem with sadness):  But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little (Luke 7:47)

Pray for a broken and humble heart, a heart to know the astonishing debt of our own sin. It is a paradox but it is true: we have to grasp the bad news of sin before we can rejoice in the good news of forgiveness and redemption. Before we can really love the One who alone can save us, we have to know how difficult we are to love. You and I must pray for the grace to finally have it dawn on us that “The Son of God died for me….not because I was good or nice, but because I was bad and in desperate shape.” Only when we really experience this mercy is our heart broken and humble enough to really love the Lord.  But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little (Luke 7:47)

I am mindful of an old Gospel song that says, “I really Love the Lord! You don’t know what he’s done for me! Gave me the victory. I really love the Lord!”

Is God’s Love Really Unconditional?

I want to propose to you that God’s love really IS unconditional. However it should be stated from the onset that there are some problems presented by the assertion that God’s love is unconditional. For while there are plenty of texts from Scripture that teach that God’s love and grace are unmerited,  there is no real text that presents a “slam-dunk” assertion that God’s love is unconditional. There are even some texts that seem to teach that God’s love is conditional. For example:

  1. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (Jn 14:21)
  2. I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,  but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Ex 20:5-6)
  3. The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God  (John 16:27).
  4. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (1 John 4:15-16)

So most of these texts imply that God’s love for us is based on certain conditions. For example, whether we love his Son, or whether we keep his commandments. But while these texts are puzzling, they are not necessarily devastating to the notion that God loves us unconditionally. This is because it is possible for God to love us unconditionally from his side of the equation. And yet, from our side of the equation it may still be necessary that some conditions be fulfilled before we can receive this love unconditionally offered.

Consider the following example. Let’s say I walk up to you and you are carrying two large boxes filled with books you value. I am holding two other boxes filled with cash amounting to $50 million in large bills. I offer these boxes to you freely, without charge. No strings attached. My offer to you is unconditional. Take them, they are yours. So, my offer is unconditional. However, from your perspective there is a condition. You must first put down the boxes filled with books you value and then take up the boxes filled with money that I offer. Hence there is  a condition you must meet to receive my unconditional offer. MY offer is unconditional but you must overcome an obstacle. Your full arms must be emptied. The condition is not on my side but on yours. Hence, the quotes above which seem to place conditions on God’s love my only be conditions from our side of the equation. God can love us unconditionally and offer his love for free. But in order for us to receive and experience that love it may be necessary for us to empty our arms from sin, from worldly attachments and the like. We cannot carry both sets of boxes. We cannot serve God and Mammon. So it is possible to argue that God’s love IS  unconditional even as we accept texts like those above which declare that something in us must change for us to truly receive this unconditional offer of God.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:6-8)

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the Beloved. (Eph 1:4-6)

for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (Rom 11:-29)

I would further like to propose to you that God’s love never fails. I will go so far as to say that even the souls in hell are loved by God. How could they continue to exist if He did not love them, sustatin them and provide for them? God loves because God IS love and that is what Love does, it loves. We may fail to be able to experience or accept that love, and that inability may at some time become permanent for us. But God never stops loving. How could he? God does not merely have love, He IS love. And love cannot NOT  LOVE for it pertains to love that it love. God has not stopped loving the souls in Hell. How could He? They surely refused to empty their arms to receive his embrace but God’s love for them has never been withdrawn. How could God not be love?

There was a man who had two sons (cf Luke 15). And one of those sons sinned horribly against him but then returned with repentance and received the embrace of his Father’s love. The other son was resentful and refused to enter the celebration with his Father and his brother. And the Father pleaded with him to enter the celebration and, I suspect, offered him too the embrace of love. Did the son enter the celebration? We do not know for the biblical story ends. But not really. For you and I finish it with our lives. The Father offers us the embrace of his love in the glory of the heavenly celebration. Will you and I enter the wedding feast or will we stay outside brooding and resentful. The Father’s offer is unconditional. But for you and me, from our side of the equation, there is a condition. We must enter to receive the unconditional offer. What is your answer to the Father’s pleading? Will you enter? Finish the story

I have posted this video before. it does a beautiful job of depicting God’s plaintive and loving call that echoes down through time: “Adam Where are You?!” It presents well the great drama of God’s love and our choice.  The video concludes with God  saying, “Won’t you come in from the darkness now before it’s time to finally close the door?!” What will you answer?

Two Kinds of Love to Celebrate on St Valentine’s Day

St. Valentine’s Day is a day that celebrates romantic love. This sort of love, to be sure, is noble and to be encouraged. The Church has sometimes been accused of being suspicious of romantic love. It is true that certain heretical groups such as the Cathari and the Jansenist’s have frowned on sexual love in marriage. But they were considered heretics for their views. A true Catholic view celebrates romantic love  (eros in Greek).  As a Catholic Pastor I like others want to encourage romantic love and ultimately marriage. And within marriage to encourage on-going romantic love. I tell my younger parishioners, get married (first!) have lots of babies and raise them Catholic! You may recall the old Rhyme: “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage.”

A Great Love – Romantic love is good and it brings blessings! But romantic love (eros) has a place a purpose and in God’s plan. Fundamentally eros is meant to draw a man and a woman to each other and ultimately to marriage. And within marriage their romantic love is to be fruitful and multiplying. Yet too many today just play around with and dabble in eros. They vent its power through premarital sex and do not  follow it’s intended course which is to draw to people together in deep desire and love. Eros is about drawing and man and woman into deep interpersonal union it is not merely about bringing two bodies together.  Too many rush to eros’ physical urge and disclose the deepest mysteries about themselves inappropriately. The great dance of courtship and marriage is thus short-circuited and eros looses both it’s dignity and its goal. Marriage rates have plummeted and so have birthrates.

Pope Benedict has this to say on eros:

That love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings, was called “eros” by the ancient Greeks….The Greeks—not unlike other cultures—considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a “divine madness” which tears man away from his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness…..Christianity of the past is often criticized as having been opposed to the body; and it is quite true that tendencies of this sort have always existed. Yet [in] the contemporary [scene] eros, is reduced to pure “sex”….Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: … no longer is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less relegated to the purely biological sphere. [But] true, eros tends to rise “in ecstasy” towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves….Two aspects of this are important. First, eros is somehow rooted in man’s very nature; Adam is a seeker, who “abandons his mother and father” in order to find woman; only together do the two represent complete humanity and become “one flesh”. The second aspect is equally important….eros directs man towards marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus, does it fulfil its deepest purpose….[And in Scripture Marriage] becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa. (Deus Caritas est 3-11 selected)

So romantic love (eros) has a dignity but it also has a purpose. It’s purpose is to draw man and woman toward marriage, family and ultimately toward God. The deep desire that man and woman have for each other is a sign of the ultimate desire of the human heart for deep union with God.

An even greater love – But there is a second love to be celebrated on St. Valentines Day and that is Agape love.  Agape love is the love whereby we love God above ourselves, above all things and above all people. There is perhaps no greater example of this sort of love than that of the martyrs. They were willing to forsake everything for Christ. They excepted the supreme price of this love, the gift of their very own life. Every martyr can truly say, “Lord, I love you more than my self, my life, my things and more than any other person in my life.  The world hates me for this and will kill me for it, but I willing pay the price that this love demands.”

St. Valentine was a martyr. Christian tradition recognizes two saints from the early Church as “Valentine.” The first is the Roman priest Valentine. He was decapitated in 268 AD  for the crime of trying to convert a member of Emperor Claudius the Goth’s household. He also a renowned healer. The second Valentine is Bishop Valentine who was also a renowned healer and was also turned it for converting people to Christianity. He was imprisoned and the attempt was made to force him to sacrifice to pagan gods. When he refused an attempt was made to club him to death. When that failed he was beheaded in 273 AD.

The red of St. Valentine’s Day signals not only the warm blood of romance, but also the red hot blood of martyrs. Eros is surely noble and necessary. It is rightly celebrated. But no great love (agape) exists than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. Thus today the red blood of martyrs too is celebrated and proclaimed.

A blessed St. Valentine’s Day to one and all.

Faithful in Little Things

One of my favorite quotes from St. Augustine  is not all that well known. Here it is in Latin and then my own translation:

  • Quod Minimum, minimum est,
  • Sed in minimo fidelem esse,
  • magnum est.
  • St. Augustine – De Doctrina Christiana, IV,35
  • What is a little thing,  is (just) a little thing.
  • But to be faithful in a little thing
  • is a great thing.

I first saw this quote on the frontispiece of a book by Adrian Fortescue et al. describing the intricate details of celebrating the Old Latin Mass. That form of the Mass has an enormous amount of detail to learn. Things like how exactly to hold the hands, when and how to bow, what tone of voice to use, what fingers should be used to pick up the host, and on and on. Some might see these details as overwhelming and picky. But as the quote above states and  Fortescue apparently wanted us to think, love is often shown in reverence for the little things.

It’s so easy to become lazy, even about sacred things like saying Mass. I often have to remind myself about little things like the condition of my shoes. Are my vestments clean? How about the altar linens, are they properly cared for? Do I bow and pause at Mass when I should. How is my tone of voice? Do I walk reverently in the sanctuary? Am I careful to pronounce the sacred words of the liturgy with care and a prayerful spirit? Some my find such questions tedious and borderline scrupulous. But when you love, little things are often important.

Married couples may also struggle to remember the little things that show love. A kind remark, a simple thank you. Flowers brought home for no particular reason. A simple look. The gift of listening attentively. Cleaning up after yourself in the kitchen. Just a simple reassurance, “I’m glad I married you” or “You’re a great Father to our children.”  Maybe it’s just a quick phone call from or to work saying, “I love you and was thinking about you.”

Just little things. But to be faithful in little things is a great thing. A Gospel comes to mind:

Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!  (Matt 25:21)

And Again:

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16:10).

Little things? Who cares!? God does. Little things are great things to those who love.

This song says, “You must be faithful over a few things to be ruler over many things. Be thou faithful unto death and God will give you a crown of life.” It ends in a rousing chorus: “Well done good and faithful servant, well done!”

An”Unpopular”Teaching on Marriage

OK, so many of you who went to Mass today hear the “Infamous”  line:  Wives  should be subordinate to their Husbands as to the Lord. For the Husband is the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is the Head of the Church…so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything; (Eph 5:20-21, 23) Well apparently the Holy Spirit didn’t get the memo that we don’t think and talk like that today!  🙂

Alright, so maybe it grates on modern ears today but don’t just dismiss what God teaches here. One of the great dangers of this passage is that it is so startling to modern ears that many people tune out after the first line into their own thoughts and reactions and thus miss the rest of what God has to say. You may notice that there is text that follows and before a man gloats at the first line or a women reacts with anger or sadness we do well to pay attention to the rest of the text which spells out the duties of a husband. You see if you’re going to be the head of a household there are certain requirements that have to be met. God’s not playing around here or choosing sides. He has a comprehensive plan for husbands  that is demanding and requires him to curb any notions that authority is about power and to remember that,  for a Christian, authority is always given so that the one who has it may serve  (cf  Mark 10:42-45).

So what are the requirements for a husband?

  1. Husbands, love your wives– Pay attention men, don’t just tolerate your wife,  don’t just bring home money, don’t just love in some intellectual sort of way. LOVE your wife with all your heart. Beg God for  the grace to love your wife tenderly, powerfully and unconditionally. Did you hear what God says? LOVE your wife! Now he goes on to tell you to love her in three ways: passionately, purifyingly and providingly.
  2. Passionate loveeven as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her. The Greek word (Paradidomi) translated here as “handed over” always refers in the New Testament to Jesus’ crucifixion. Husbands, are you willing to give your life for your wife and children? Are you willing to die to yourself and give your life as a daily sacrifice for them? God instructs you to love your wife (and children) with the same kind of love he has for his Bride the Church. That kind of love is summed up in the cross. Love your wife passionately, be willing to suffer for her, be willing to make sacrifices for her and the children.
  3. Purifyingly to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Now a husband cannot sanctify his wife in the same way God can. But what a husband is called to do is to help his wife and children grow in their relationship to Jesus Christ. He is first to  be under God’s authority himself and thus make it easier for his wife and children to live out their baptismal commitments. He ought to a spiritual leader in his home, praying with his wife and children, reading scripture and seeing to it that his home is a place where God is loved and obeyed, first of all by him. His wife should not have to drag him to Church, he should willingly help her to grow in holiness and pray with her every day. And he should become more holy as well and thus make it easier for his wife to live the Christian life.
  4. ProvidinglySo also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it – Husbands, take care of your wife in her needs. She needs more than food money and shelter, these days she can get a lot of that for herself. What she needs even more is your love, understanding, and appreciation. She needs for you to be a good listener and wants an attentive husband who is present to her. Like any human being she needs reassurance and affirmation. Tell her of your love and appreciation, don’t just presume she knows. Show care for your wife, attend to her needs just like you instinctively do for your own self.  That’s what God is teaching here.

OK, so scripture DOES teach that a wife should be submitted to her husband. But what kind of husband does scripture have in mind? A husband who really loves his wife, who is a servant leader, who is makes sacrifices for his wife, who is prayerful and spiritual, submitted to God’s authority and who cares deeply for his wife and her needs. The same God who teaches submission (and he does) also teaches these things clearly for the husband. The teaching must be taken as a whole.

For more on this consider listening to my sermon on this from today. It is here (Teaching on Marriage) in mp3 format. It is 35 minutes!  but consider downloading it if you can’t listen just now. You can download this and other sermons of mine by going here: then right clicking on the title of any talk and selecting the “Save Target As”  option. You can also get my sermons at iTunes. Just search on my name. Perhaps put this or other sermons on your iPod and listen when you get the chance.

This video clip is from the movie Fireproof and depicts a heartfelt apology from a husband who realizes he has not loved his wife as he should. A beautiful movie available at Amazon if you have never seen it.

God Loves You. He Even Likes You.

Every now and then we need to be reminded that God really loves us. Some of us struggle with this notion especially when we have sinned or experienced a shortcoming. Some times we don’t feel very lovable. But consider this:

  1. Before you were ever formed in you mother’s womb God knew you and loved you (Jer. 1:4)
  2. God knit you together in your mother’s womb (Ps 139:13)
  3. You are fearfully wonderfully made (Ps 139:14)
  4. Every one of your days and deeds were written in God’s book before one of them ever came to be. (Ps. 139:16)

So God knew you and planned for you. You cannot earn his love you already have it. In fact you had it before you were born, before you had done anything. As for your sins God knew all about them too. Sin does not cancel God’s love but it does limit and ultimately sever our acceptance of that love. “Ah but what about Hell?” you might say. Yes a great tragedy, but do you suppose that God’s love does not extend there also? After all God does not destroy the souls in hell. He still sustains and provides for them. He loves them still. It is they who do not love him or His kingdom and he will not force it on them.

So face it God loves you, he even likes you. He does not love you because you deserve it. He loves you for “no good reason.” His love cannot be explained in any human terms. He loves you simply because he does, because he is Love. If you have never experienced this love, get on  your knees and ask for this necessary gift.

Maybe these videos will help. The first one is a beautiful musical reflection by Don Francisco “I’ll Never Let Go of Your Hand” (available at iTunes).  The Second one I have posted before about a young firefighter who powerfully  experiences the unmerited love that God has for him.