(Peter Fransen, adapted from the story taken from Journey to Solitude)
Once upon a time there was a young girl, an orphan, who grew up in poor and rough surroundings. Her foster parents were hard on her and had never wanted her. Never as a baby or as a growing child had she known love and experienced the happiness of a true home. She had never been loved. And then she grew up into a young woman. Daily encounter with selfishness and brutality hardened her heart. She could only react in self-defense. What happened in the past would remain so in the future: biting in order not to be bitten - the law of the jungle. She had no faith in her fellow human beings; she did not have faith.
Her whole appearance betrayed the loneliness that filled her life. She toiled and moiled, dressed in cheap, graceless attire. Her one means of escape from hopeless emptiness was rough and rowdy amusement.
There lived in the same city a young man, handsome and strong. His sunny youth, spent in the midst of loving parents, brothers and sisters, shone in his gaze and sang in his voice. His step and speech were assured and firm, as is the case with those who have found peace. He was a good man.
One bright morning, the miracle happened. The young man met the girl by chance. Moved in his innermost self, his heart went out to her. With the eyes of love, he saw right through and beyond her shabby vulgarity. He looked out for her; he spoke to her with the simplicity of a conquered heart. The young man’s truthfulness and appreciation stirred up within her self-reliance, a foretaste of peace and quiet, of inner self-assurance. And so, timidly, gropingly, the young woman awakened to first love. Beauty came to her with the first smile.
Soon they became absorbed in each other. They steadily drew together in a selfless exchange of pure mutual love. The girl had been granted a great favor, a matchless present, a gift she did not deserve: the favor of love. After the long painful and lonely youth, a seed had been sown in her innermost self; it was ready to spring into life. Though, still very much herself, she was already another person. She experienced a soothing security, welling up from within her; she grew steadily in strength and depth. All the disgust, hatred and vindictiveness she had so far nursed in herself, she let go. She discovered the beauty of the world that surrounded her - the setting sun, the light in the eyes of a child, the laughter in a voice. She became another being altogether; for the first time, she was her true self.
To love and be loved is the deepest longing of every living human person. “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible to himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.” (Redemptor Hominis,10)
Love has a creative power. The path to the deepest self-discovery and the utmost self-release lies within the two-fold experience of knowing oneself as loved with infinite love and of giving love in return with all the heart, soul, mind and strength.
This is what happened to the young woman in the story; she was able to find her true self because she experienced the unselfish love of the young man. She was changed by the love of the young man who saw beyond her weaknesses and limitedness.
Can you and I ever encounter a love like that? Perhaps, we have become somewhat skeptical about the possibility of “true love”, especially in our world today, where love has often been reduced to material things, sensual feelings, empty and meaningless word. We are tempted to think that what we have just read is only a beautiful tale and will remain as such. Can there ever be a love like that of the young man which is so powerful that it can work a miracle in another person’s life?
However skeptical we might have become, we cannot deny that we have also experienced this kind of love from our family, friends and other people who have come and touched our lives. We have met people who have accepted us for who and what we are. We have responded to this love, which has influenced and shaped our lives in one way or another.
However, more than these people is SOMEBODY who has loved us to the folly offering his very self until the end. Are we not aware that each one of us, each one without exception, has been an object of an incomparable love? Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father, the incarnation of God’s mercy and fidelity has given us and shown us this unconditional love. Many times in our life, we often catch ourselves wondering whether there is somebody who truly loves us in spite of ourselves. We have forgotten a basic reality in our life, that, there is a God who loves us from the very beginning of our life and is continually loving us up to this very moment. We have not merited this love.
God loves us freely; his love is gratuitous and unmotivated by any honor or dignity we might have acquired. “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.” (Jn.3: 16) Jesus Christ’s death on the cross gave the fullness of the greatness of God the Father’s love for each one of us; “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” (Jn.15: 13)
Jesus’ love for each one of us is what authentic love is all about, a self-sacrificing love, which the prophet Isaiah movingly describes: “It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured. He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, like the young woman in our story, each following his own way; but Jesus laid upon himself the guilt of us all.” (Is.53: 4-6)
Because of love, the young woman in our story discovered her own worth, her dignity. She was able to see the beauty around her and for the first time in her life she realized her true self. Love brought meaning to her existence. Jesus Christ’s love does more for us. Through his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus brought back our dignity which was destroyed by our sins. He makes us “partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Pt.1: 4) This is why the Son of God became the Son of Man: so that man, by entering into communion with him may receive divine sonship and might become a son of God. “He was made flesh that we might possess the Spirit. He was brought low that we might be raised up. He endured blows that we might be healed. He was mocked to free us from eternal damnation. He died to give us life. (Homilies on Ezekiel, 11:4-20)
God’s love knows no time, nor boundaries, he loved us even before we were born, “He called us from birth, from our mother’s womb he gave us our name.” (Is.49: 1) He created us in his own image and likeness, with free will and intelligence. He perfected his love for us in the person of Jesus Christ, “In Christ and through Christ, we have acquired full awareness of our dignity, of the heights to which we are raised, of the surpassing worth of our own humanity, and of the meaning of our existence.” And he continues to love us in and through the Holy Spirit, the Advocate and Helper whom Jesus promised to send us after he goes back to his Father. (Jn.16: 7)
Is this not what we long for? To be loved until time is no more? God cannot stop loving us because his very essence is Love. This love of God for us becomes our reason to love our fellowmen: “Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God, whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 Jn.4: 11) Jesus Christ did not only show how much our Father loved us but he also wants us to
share in his work of love as he himself had said, “Love one another as I loved you.” (Jn. 15: 12)
The closer we are to God, the more ardent will be our desire to share ourselves with others; the more authentic then will be our love for them, and the deeper will our relationship with God and one another grow. Our life then, will become truly meaningful and worth living. A day spent in extending God’s love to our brothers and sisters; a day marked by our reaching out to those we meet, especially those in need of help, these are times when God’s grace works in us. Yes, we may become wounded in the process of loving. We will surely be broken into pieces. We may die a thousand little deaths in our effort to love, but it will not matter. What will matter the most is that we have loved. A LOVE which will wound us will eventually be the LOVE which will heal us and those around us. For after all, each one of us is called to become WOUNDED HEALERS, WOUNDED LOVERS, like JESUS CHRIST himself.
Is this not reason enough to celebrate, knowing that after all, despite ourselves, we are loved? A person who has received undeserved love becomes a grateful person. This is the essence of Lenten celebration.
|Men fully alive, endowed with a passion for justice, and the skills for development.|
|© 2004 Xavier School, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our disclaimer. Contact us.
|All external sites will open in a new browser.
Xavier School does not endorse external sites.