God Is Love - A Personal Reflection on the 2006 Clergy Retreat
By: Rev Dr Paul Babie on: Thu 03 of Aug, 2006 [10:19] (38 reads)
Once again the clergy and religious of the Eparchy gathered at St Vincent Pallotti College in Millgrove, Victoria, for our annual clergy retreat. Between 24 and 28 July we lived and prayed together as a monastic community.......
Unlike previous years, the weather was warm and sunny throughout our stay, and this offered an ideal setting to listen to our retreat master, Fr Victor Kormanovich, as he led us with his reflections on Pope Benedict XVIís Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love) (available at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedi...tas-est_en.html
). The beautiful scenery and weather could not but assure us that God is indeed, Love. What I offer here is my own reflection on our retreat and the themes presented by Fr Victor and it centres on the manifestation of God-Love? in the entirety of our own lives. As with my reflections on past retreats, you may like to use these themes in your own personal prayer life.
We begin with BUSYNESS - we are all so busy with our own life and our own troubles that we forget that Jesus, Love, dwelt among us in order to show us mercy. So where are our own works of mercy towards others? To reorientate ourselves we must set aside our worldly cares and turn to works of mercy towards others. Only in this way can we become living vessels of Jesus-Love?, a Love which is poured out for all. Only in this way can we become the purveyors of Jesus-Love? in the world. And this can only be accomplished when we put our troubles and worldly cares aside and turn to our relationship with Jesus through prayer. Our prayer life must take priority in all that we do.
How can we nurture our relationship with Jesus-Love? Through spending time with Jesus in WORD--HOLY SCRIPTURE (THE HOLY BIBLE). Holy Scripture breathes with the Holy Spirit and so we should spend time every day in quiet and stillness to read the Word of God, Jesus Christ, in both the Old and the New Testament. It is only in Holy Scripture that we can hear the truth that the world will not tell us. The world takes us away from truth, from God, while Holy Scripture brings us back to Truth, Love, Jesus, God. And once we spend time with Jesus in the Word, then we can begin to live that Truth, to teach itóbut we must first understand how it is meant to be understood. We cannot interpret it in our own private way, but only through the teaching of the Holy Church. And for this we must be part of our Christian community, our parish.
Once we restore our relationship with Jesus in prayer and Holy Scripture, we will begin to see that Jesus-Love? is revealed in all CREATION. We rush through our lives and as a result we miss God-Love? all around usóthe God-Love? that is Creation. We saw this so beautifully at Millgrove this year, but you, too, will see it all around you, wherever you are at any given moment. Rather than seeing the world as a place from which money can be made, wealth hoarded, status acquired, and possessions accumulated, by restoring our relationship with Jesus through prayer we will see that the world is Godís Creation, it is God-Love?, and it is to be cared for, not exploited for our own gain. Our focus on money, wealth, status and possessions will not assist us in gaining our own salvation. Restoring our relationship with Jesus-Love? will.
Once we begin to restore our relationship with Jesus-Love? through the process of prayer and spending time with Holy Scripture, and once we notice Godís Creation all around us, in all that is, animals, plants, and people, we can begin to take up the great responsibility of CHARITY. While charity lies at the very heart of the Church, it starts with each one of us individually. The Holy Trinity is Love and all of us must reflect that love in all that we do, otherwise, we distance ourselves from others. Only when we can open ourselves to charity can we become truly the carriers of Love.
God models charity for us. God is always looking for usóGod knows each of our names and all that weíve done. But Love is all that matters to God, and so it does not matter what we might have done in our lives, when we seek to return to God, through our prayer life, our spending time with Jesus in Holy Scripture, then God will welcome us back in Love. We will find FORGIVENESS and we will be called Godís neighbours. God will rejoice with us. As with the prodigal son, even if we lose our way, God will come out and find us and prepare a banquet for us when we return, and our joy will be endless. God wants to care for us, wants to Love us.
And once we restore our relationship with God-Love? as an individual, we will find that our Christian community, our parish, will become ONE COMMUNITY OF LOVE. We will no longer be separated into parts, but we will be ONE. This requires us to lead through our example. We must, each of us, give the example of our own personal relationship with Jesus and our living a life of Love. Through this people will see what is real and what is not.
To conclude, may I offer you this reflection on God-Love?, written by Archbishop Joseph Raya, of blessed memory:
The ways of God are unchanging: they are one continuous act of love. Not as if love flowed from God: Love is God and God is Love.
There is God-Love in the creation of man: in the making of a being to whom the All-Perfect? could give Himself, since man was not made for the benefit of God, whose delight cannot be increased, but for the multiplication of love.
There is God-Love in the promise of the Redemption: in the tender care lavished upon the seed of Abraham.
There is God-Love in the privileges of the Chosen People, so clearly manifested in the miracles of the Exodus, and commemorated in the liturgy of the Passover.
There is God-Love in the songs of the kings, in the anxious warnings of the prophets, in the hopes of a whole people for a salvation yet to come.
There is supreme God-Love in the sacrifice of the Lamb upon the cross, under which we live unto this very day.
There will be God-Love at all times, now and always and for ever and ever. Amen.