Thursday, January 27, 2011

The consequences of God's divine love

Competing themes this week as a lot happened. The retreat at my parish given by Fr Tom Allender provided much food for thought, and so I will devote this blog to his retreat. Part of my new years resolution turned out to be the theme of the 3 day talk/retreat.

Diverging from the rest of my blogs, much of what I share in this blog will be a reflection of what I heard from Fr.Tom. Fr, Tom said, if we believe in a God who loves conditionally, we will love ourselves and others this way. If we believe that God only is pleased with us, cares for us and guides us when we do good, then we will treat ourselves and others this way. If we believe in a God who punishes us with silence or distance or criticism and withdraws His love then we will reflect this type of love toward ourselves and others. This type of love makes us fearful of Gods' and other peoples reactions. We can't love unconditionally if we believe God does not love us unconditionally.

As I thought about this I thought about consequences. Consequences can be good or bad. Bad consequences result from poor choices or mistakes. There are consequences to mistakes we make but this does not equate us as being less worthy of being loved. Believing in Karma leaves us with a view of conditional love by the laws of the universe and hence a conditional love by our creator.

Our mistakes, however, are only a small fraction of who we are, and sometimes those mistakes can be a grace for us and others. Yet when we chose to define ourselves or others by these mistakes, then we are damning ourselves. Nowhere is this most evident then with those who are behind bars justly. Even after paying the consequences for their action, they are forever defined in terms of their mistake. I can think of no greater an injustice that is largely ignored. After all, Jesus was condemned a criminal and paid the consequence for his crime during his time.

Sometimes, though, even natural consequences are suspended. Most of us have heard of the chain smoker, like George Burns, who did not develop lung cancer early and die. Then there are those who are health nuts and take care of themselves and die early. If you have enough money you may have had a chance to escape a prison sentence. I am not advocating these actions but just illustrating a point. We can justly or unjustly suffer consequences or even be like Jesus and take on the consequences of others and suffer the penalty. The reality remains we are loved no less, and in some instances may need love even more.

We can see God's unconditional love for us as revealed by Jesus in scripture. Matthew 5:45 that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Here we are advised to be perfect just like our Father in Heaven is perfect for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good. In other words, He loves unconditionally. But all the reading in the world won't help if we don't really believe in our hearts that we are loved this way by our creator.

It would seem counter intuitive that our God who is unconditional love would not love us this way. We are created as beings who makes mistakes but we know that we are so much more than those mistakes. However, holding onto those mistakes can limit us from being the more that we are. And here is where forgiveness come in and why the Lords prayer helps us be in the moment. We let go of the past and live in the now.'s_Prayer

This gift of love is with us each and every moment. The more we embrace it the more we become love. And in the words of Father Tom, if we have love then we can give it away. We can't give what we don't have.

It is my prayer that in each moment we open our hearts to God's love, and especially in those moments where we feel we have made a mistake or feel wronged. What a beautiful world this will be when we become the consequences of God's divine love.


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