The theme of Christ’s self-giving has been a reoccurring one this Lent. Not surprisingly it turned up again on Friday as our class was on the Mass.
It got me thinking about how Christ’s sacrificial love for us, demonstrated on the cross, requires a response. What happens to me when I discover this God who loves me so completely?
If I decide to love God in return as completely as I can, then my life is no longer my own. Imagine a couple that met, fell in love and got married. If one of them then packs their bags one day and disappears, leaving only a note that said, “I feel the need to discover the world. Don’t know when or if I will be back,” people might rightly question whether this person really ever loved their spouse. Once you make a commitment to love someone with all that you have, you begin a journey together that requires a shared vision of the future. When we love it presupposes relationship. This love necessitates the letting go of some dreams only to discover others. Love can makes people do some strange things and overcome incredible obstacles. You view the world in a new way and things that were once important can pale into insignificance as you engage in the mystery that is Love.
In the Office of Readings for Sunday, Lent 4, St Augustine echoes some of this:
If you love me, then follow. I do love you, you say, but what way am I to follow? If the Lord your God said to you, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life,’ you, desiring truth and eager for life, would immediately seek the way to attain these.
The responsory after this included Peter’s words “Lord to whom would we go? You have the message of eternal life.”
My heart has been captured by this Jesus, who gave himself completely for me. What choice do I have? Who else can I follow, to whom else can I go? For this Jesus who loves me is also God who made me and gave me life. I have given my life away to this Love, my life is no longer my own — if it ever was!
This journey has been one which has had many ups, downs and surprises along the way. There have been a lot of questions about what the Ordinariate is for, how we feel about being re-confirmed, some conditionally baptised and on Neil’s part re-ordained. These issues and many more have caused difficulties. And yet what choice do we have? The God who loves us has called us to follow Him down this path. Do we refuse just because there are difficulties along the way? Sometimes it feels too steep, sometimes we wonder if there isn’t an easier path, sometimes we feel as if our energy is about to give out and sometimes we are afraid. And yet we have been called this way by the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He loves us and if we love him, even just a little, our hearts will drive us on to capture the Mystery that has captured us.
St Augustine towards the end of the reading writes “You are not told, ‘Strive to find the way, that you may come to truth and life.’ No you are not told this. Rise up you lazy man! The way itself has come to you and awoken you from sleep.”
We follow because He who calls us loved us first, sought us out and now leads us home.