Reflection for the18th Sunday of Year

 Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ…

…For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince

Nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or     depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of     God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord…

My dear Friends:

Wow! The words from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans really grip the heart! Can you imagine, amid the challenges, stresses, pressures, difficulties, grinding needs and demands of daily life, to receive a letter telling us how much we are loved! I used to think that this reading referred to our love for God. It is actually attesting to God’s unquenchable love for us. NOTHING can come between us and the love of God made visible in Jesus Christ. His love is not something we have to earn! It is given freely, generously…without charge! It is by simply saying ‘yes’ to allow ourselves to be loved by God. It is then that we are loved into change, and transformed by His love.

This brings two paths of thought together. I remember many years ago, reading a book by John Powell, Why Am I Afraid to Love? A student was asked why she was afraid to tell others who she was. Her response: Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? I am afraid to tell you who I am, because, if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am, and it's all that I have...” Powell states in one of his other books (The Secret of Staying in Love): It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty, or perceive a sense of his own worth, until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being. Today’s readings tell us just how precious, and loved, each one of us is by God!  Nothing can come between God’s love for us…I guess… except ourselves!

You know, our words and actions flow from the contents dwelling in the storerooms of our hearts. This was expressed very aptly in Thursday’s readings in which the author stated we could not harvest grapes from bramble bushes…Indeed, it is true! We can all follow ‘the Christian thing to do’, but I firmly believe that unless there is a Love Conversion in the very core of our being, in which we allow ourselves to be loved by God, and loved into change by God, what we do and say will feel as dry as dust, and taste just as insipid.

If the storerooms of our hearts are filled seething hurt, bitter resentment, anger and woundedness…these feelings will spill into our words, actions and responses to others. If we feel unloved, taken for granted, endlessly criticised and never affirmed, these are the reflections we shall see daily in our personal mirrors. If this is also the only mirror rammed into our faces each day, it will result in eyes which only see faults; ears, deaf to affirmation; tongues which only know how to whiplash; and hearts, which have turned into stone.  Powell says, a person will only be able to express and show love, care and affirmation if it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being. And that is the challenge for each one of us!

We have to only to say ‘yes’ to God’s love us. This will enable us to truly love ourselves, and, render us capable of showing that love to others! The storerooms of our hearts will be filled with the beauty of authentic affirmation, compassion, affirmation and love. We shall be loved into the creations we were meant to be.

I am sure you remember that beautiful quote from the Velveteen Rabbit!

Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

I think that about sums up the ways in which it is God’s love for us which changes and transforms us – if we say the ‘yes’ and allow it to happen.

Remember me as loving you

Fr Antony

The parish is part of the Diocese of Portsmouth. Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust registered charity 246871.

© 2019• Immaculate Conception Church, Portswood, Southampton

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