VATICAN - AVE MARIA: Mgr Luciano Alimandi -
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "God is love"! With these words John presents us the Truth, so to say, the maxim on God! From this truth comes everything else. From this truth the entire plan for creation and redemption develops and to this truth it returns.
This is why the Gospel of John focuses precisely on love, the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God: "For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (Jn 3, 16). These words should echo continually in the hearts of believers, like a lovely poem narrating the marvelous story of our salvation, like a never ending canticle.
The Holy Father Benedict XVI in his first Encyclical, offered the whole Catholic Church profound reflection and lofty magisterial teaching on this highest of truths:
"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: "We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us"." (Deus Caritas Est, n. 1).
The hub of spiritual life, the center around which our human existence should rotate, the source from which we draw energy and longing for goodness, is God's own Love. However this love must be first of all acknowledged, believed, as the Holy Father says in the wake of John's teaching.
In God there is only Love, solely Love! This sublime truth at first glance might appear obvious for the believer, but far from it. In order to 'enter' this truth the mind needs to be purified. In fact the image of God's Love for us has been distorted by sin, our 'eyes' are clouded by 'non love' - and 'love' which is not love -, this explains why we have difficulty in perceiving the infinite love with which God loves each one of his creatures. We bear within us two images, the image of authentic love but also the image of its distortion, due to the legacy of sin, our own and those of the world, a legacy which so affects our culture, our education, our opinions and life styles…
Without authentic "metanoia" - progressive change of mentality which presupposes self-emptying -, it is impossible to "encounter" the sublime Truth of God, who became incarnate in Our Lord Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us and for us!
When we find it difficult to believe that God loves us, just as we are, with freely given unconditioned love, it is a sign that the eyes of our heart are still clouded by self-love. We learn this from the Gospel which tells about the behavior of the Apostles at times unable to see beyond appearances and above all when faced with the mystery of suffering, which veils the mystery of love, they refuse to look more deeply. One such episode was the moving scene of Jesus' agony in the Garden of Olives. Instead of keeping watch with the Master, already immersed in an ocean of love and suffering for the whole of humanity: "their eyes were so heavy" (Mk 14, 40), the three Apostles fell asleep.
Our eyes become heavy if we fail to stay in God's love through constant trust in God and reciprocal charity among ourselves. Selfishness weighs us down, whereas total trust in God, with prayer and lived and shared charity, lighten the load making us open to the breath of the Holy Spirit, breath of pure freedom. Some compare the soul to a sail which unfurls to fill itself with wind and power. Only if we unfurl our souls to capture God's "wind", if we open our wills to his love, loving our brothers and sisters, only then can we "enter", through faith, the great mystery of eternal life. Since "God is love", everything can be traced back to his Love. This Love conquered even sin and death itself, nothing can resist it. This is an announcement of the resurrection of Christ!
Certainly, God's Love created us free, since love without freedom is unthinkable. Therefore we have this 'tremendous' responsibility not to raise walls against God's love. A definite and absolute 'no' can stop even God, stop Him and his love from entering the creature who rejects Him.
Human freedom is both stupendous and tremendous: with a definite 'yes' to God at the hour of death, we can fly heavenwards, like the good thief, (cfr. Lk 23, 43), but with a total 'no' to divine mercy the rebellious creature can precipitate down to the abyss of hell.
How necessary it is to grasp the safe hand of Mary, Mother of Jesus, our Mother, Queen of the month of May, who longs to accompany us and protect us from every evil on this marvelous journey towards eternity! This is a journey with no return, since we are born and we die once only to be born anew in Christ Jesus, in the never ending joy of the eternal and infinite love of the Father!
(Agenzia Fides 20/5/2009; righe 57, parole 895)