What could be in the mind of God, that He would come to live with His creation…subject Himself to it? That He would be born as a helpless baby in poverty?
Love. Just Love.
We have such issues with this word love. We all want it. We feel it inside and it can overwhelm our bodies with feelings of warmth and joy. We all long to give it. Why then, is love so confusing?
Because it is so hard to accept what love really is: a gift of Self.
In my previous post on love I tried to convey that learning to love others begins by loving your Self, and that the essence of God is God’s own love for Himself, in the Son, through the Holy Spirit. In the Christmas season we celebrate the greatest gift of this divine love — God made man, Love Incarnate — Jesus. God’s gift of Himself to humanity begins as a helpless baby, and not only that, He was born to die. Does this seem crazy? Indeed it does…even St. Paul, speaking of the Cross, said as much: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor 1:25).
We can give ourselves love by gentleness with our mistakes, and compassion to our weakest parts. The fruits of the Holy Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23) — are born and nourished in ourselves and towards ourselves, in freedom. The fruit ripens in our actions towards others. And what happens when the ripe fruit falls to the ground (in humility)? The seeds are then planted for new fruit.
It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian faith that we gain all things by giving ourselves away. Jesus, born in our hearts, shows us the way.
“But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Mt 13:23).
Unity. It is a mark of the Church. The seeds of the Word of God sown in unity will bear the fruits of peace and joy. Scripture tells us “…in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26c). Antioch was the birthplace of the the first Gentile Christian community, and began when Christians were scattered from Jerusalem because of persecution. The home of the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch, born from the seed of the Antiochian Church, is Lebanon. One of her great saints is St. Sharbel Makhluf. St. Sharbel is known for uniting Christians and Muslims in prayer and in favors granted through his intercession. He is therefore a great intercessor, along with Blessed Solanus, in times of disunity and persecution.
There are two great virtues in the life of Blessed Solanus that are essential for the grace of unity: humility and docility to the Holy Spirit. Insisting that we must praise God “in all His designs,” he responded to major disappointments in life with gratitude, always thanking God ahead of time for prayers answered. He lived every moment of his priesthood with confidence in God’s gracious Providence. Through this docility he was able to comfort the afflicted through prophetic words, and multitudes of souls received the graces of conversion of heart and miraculous healings through his intercessory prayer. He literally opened the door to all and sowed the seeds of God’s mercy, bearing fruit “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
Today let us pray for the Lord to sow the seeds of conversion into the hearts of all His people, bearing the fruits of unity, peace, and joy.
Prayer for the Canonization of Father Solanus Casey
O God, I adore You. I give myself to You.
May I be the person You want me to be,
and may Your will be done in my life today.
I thank You for the gifts You gave Father Solanus.
If it is Your will, bless us with the Canonization of
Father Solanus so that others may imitate
and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.
As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans,
I ask You, according to Your will,
to hear my prayer for…(your intention)
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Blessed be God in all His designs.”