The devil is a great liar. He tells us that unless we’re successful in this or that, unless we achieve a certain status or accomplishment or unless we possess a number of things we will not be held as valued or loved. But when I lived on Smokey Mountain, the garbage dump of Manila, I realized that many of those who lived there, while they do not have many things, are still drawn by the desire to one day possess them. For example, at night many of the people on Smokey Mountain would gather around the one TV and watch “The Voice,” a sort of talent competition.
eople would talk about one day getting on “The Voice” and winning. And if they won they would have a place in the world and be judged as valuable and loveable. While understandable it’s still a belief about oneself derived from an origin other than God.
In the Trinity, God makes clear the extent to which we are valued and loved. It has nothing to do with how much we have or how much we don’t have, rather it is evident from his proclaimed truth: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son.”
In this single sentence we are given all. In Jesus Christ God shows us who we are. It is for us to imagine in our hearts that we are so loved by the Father that he would send his only Son, and for no other reason than to show us the value and the love God has for each of us. The more we point to things or achievements as signs of who we are or the discouragement we feel for the lack of things we have or succeed in, the more felt is our own poverty.
Before our Masses here at Lourdes, the Altar Servers, Ministers and Priests pray together in the sacristy. Sometimes a person may pray and ask that we not make a mistake. I find this an expression of sadness because it seems to say that God’s gratitude and love is dependent on our success. But Church, let us really listen to the words of Christ, “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son.” The Son was sent not because we did this or that correctly but because God desires that our relationship with him be marked more by love than by anything else. When we do something wrong we never have to be fearful of God’s rejection because, as St. Paul writes, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand.” The freedom that the children of God can know comes from this free and total gift of love in Christ. Our life-long task is not to accumulate the riches of this world nor to achieve a certain impressive status but it is to embrace in our hearts this total and free gift of God’s love. The life that we are invited to live is the life that is God himself, love that is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit can be ours as well. And so we can “boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God” knowing that this hope will not disappoint us, “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Let us live free by living in love.