Love. It’s the thing that makes the whole world go round. In this time of prolonged societal disruption, grief, and suffering, it is now more important than ever to have practices that ground us in the love of God. God who set the world in motion is at the center of the Cosmos pulling everything and everyone into the divine force of Love.
Love is remaking the whole world.
Love is the most powerful force, nd nothing can separate us from the Love of God. Nothing, no thing, can stop the eternal work of God. No pandemic. No injustice. No natural disasters, politics, illness, losses, or crises. Nothing can separate us from this love.
I know I need to hear this. I need to feel this. I need to know this deep down. As the uncertainty and losses of the pandemic persist, love is what carries me, nourishes me, and sustains me. Whether it is visible or not, I need to know that God is at work right smack dab in the middle of the mess. I need to believe in the goodness of God and the power of Love.
And I don’t think I’m alone. This year, the Apple TV comedy, Ted Lasso, became an instant hit telling a heart-warming tale about an American coach hired to rescue a Premiership football team in the U.K. — despite a total lack of experience. The show’s popularity speaks to how its optimism and hope were tremendous gifts amid the darkness of a pandemic world. One of the things that seemed to resonate deeply is Ted’s Lasso faith in God and humanity. He envisioned a world of goodness and love. The bright yellow sign that he posted in the locker room is now a meme everywhere — BELIEVE!
This is a message that we need to hear, a vision we need to see. Ignatius of Loyola, who was a Spanish Catholic priest and theologian in the sixteenth century and founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits), offered us a vision of a world held in love. You see, he observed that our vision largely controls our perception and experience of the world and thus is at the heart of our spiritual journey. It’s often said, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But Ignatius Loyola reverses the saying:
“When I believe it, I’ll see it.”
If we think the world is a bleak place, full of evil, greedy, selfish people who have no love for God or each other, that’s what we will see when we look around. If we think that our world is full of goodness and opportunity, a place that God created and sustains and loves, that is what we’ll find.
Ignatius offered this vision in the Spiritual Exercises intended to help people grow in their love for God, beginning with the Principle and Foundation.
God who loves us creates us and wants to share life with us forever. Our love response takes shape in our praise and honor and service of the God of our life.
All the things in this world are also created because of God’s love and they become a context of gifts, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we show reverence for all the gifts of creation and collaborate with God in using them so that by being good stewards we develop as loving persons in our care of God’s world and its development. But if we abuse any of these gifts of creation or, on the contrary, take them as the center of our lives, we break our relationship with God and hinder our growth as loving persons.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some responsibility. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.
[What Is Ignatian Spirituality? by David L. Fleming, SJ]
What stands out to me is this.
Everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response in our life with God.
This means that EVERYTHING in our lives right now — the joys and the sorrows, the gifts and the losses, the disillusionment and the hope, the beauty and the brokenness, the grace and the struggle…everything has the potential of calling us deeper into the love and life of God. Everything.
Nothing is wasted.
Not the last two years of what sometimes feels like Groundhog Day on repeat — days of uncertainty, anxiety, polarization, grief, protest, boredom, Netflix binging, pajamas, Zoom calls, and quarantine. For our God is a God of redemption, a God of the impossible, a God who brings fruitfulness out of barrenness and life out of death.
We began this year with the Advent invitation to believe, joining in the ancient chorus of saints who like Mary echoed a deep and resounding yes to birth the holy. For nothing is impossible with God.
I believe that we must begin to see through the eyes of faith. For negativity and cynicism dominate the airspace these days. I get it. We are feeling the prolonged effects of collective trauma, isolation, and loss. And yet there is another reality that is greater than any suffering or evil — God’s kingdom of Love is here healing and remaking the whole world.
So what do you see? What do you believe?
In the literal and spiritual fog of this season, can you put your trust in this Love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things “(I Corinthians 13:7). Love is all that matters. No one, no circumstance, no thing can take love away. When everything else is shaken, only love remains.
So however your battle-worn souls come today, love is here to greet you. Love welcomes you into a space just for you. You can lay all your worries and burdens, your striving and your surviving aside for just a few moments to slow down, breathe, inhale, and exhale. Experience the Spirit here with you, present, now. Sit in the loving gaze of your Creator. Receive deep nourishment as you root down deep into the abundant and eternal love of the Divine. I encourage you even now and through the coming days and weeks to meditate on this love of God and to begin to shift your vision to see the world through eyes of hope, faith, and love.
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16–21)
May you experience profound grace to believe in a God who is able to accomplish abundantly far more than you can ask or imagine.
For what you believe, you will see.
So why not join the long history of saints, reformers, and dreamers and follow the seminal message of the hour….BELIEVE!
by Jessica Ketola