Fr. John’s homily from the first Sunday of Lent has provided me with a beautiful mantra for this Lenten season. The comments by Bishop DeGrood on prayer that profoundly struck Fr. John also really hit home with me. “Looking at the Lord in prayer and letting the Lord look at us with Love”. Over the last week I have boiled that down to “Letting the Lord gaze at us with Love”, and even a more challenging and wider expression “Gazing with Love”.
To sit in prayer and imagine God gazing on us with Love is to get back to some very scriptural basics and is at the core of what the bible is telling us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Jn 3:16
“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” 1 Jn 3:1
Recognizing that God does indeed gaze on us with Love beyond our ability to comprehend is the very first essential step in a life of faith. Unfortunately, there are so many that cannot even think that God gazes on them with Love as they confuse the conditional and incomplete Love they have experienced from the world with how they think God Loves. The greatest realization during my conversion to Christ was that “GOD LOVED ME UNCONDITIONALLY AND OVERFLOWING”. This has been a life changer for me and Fr. John’s homily reminded me that it is so important to simply be and let God gaze at us with Love and to feel that Love flowing over and through us. When we can do that, we can fulfill the greatest commandment.
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Mt 22:37
Since it is impossible to truly sit and experience the fullness of God’s Love for us without responding with Love for God.
As with all things from God, we begin to live what we experience. This means that as we spend time in prayer letting God gaze at us with Love we start to understand that we are called to gaze on others with Love. I found this relationship between letting God gaze on us with Love and loving others beautifully expressed by the mystic Robert Lax in a letter of his to Thomas Merton.
“It is very good and sweet to be always occupied with God only, and sit simply in His presence and shut up, and be healed by the mere fact that God likes to be in your soul, because you like God to be there. And in doing this you also love your neighbor as much as you could by any action of your own: because God cannot be in your soul without that fact having an effect on other people, and not necessarily people who have ever heard of you.”
To become people that live the Gospel actively in our world, we have to carve out time in prayer to let God gaze on us with Love so that we can be more fully transformed into people that gaze with Love on all we meet. This is the mysterious relationship between contemplation and action. Both have to be present for a full and healthy faith life.
Peace, Love, and Blessings