Sometimes I look around and wonder if people are doing religion because it’s the right thing to do or is a practice handed down by parents or other loved ones. Maybe some people are motivated because they don’t want to go to hell. I imagine the actual reasons for being religious are at least some of these things, but hopefully, also, love. When we read scripture what we find is a God who is revealing himself as love. He reveals himself as one who is incredibly generous, loving, and he is calling us to be in right relationship with him. Let me tell you a story about my morning to see if I can better explain what I mean.
This morning, I woke late. I wasn’t feeling all that great, and I was tired because I stayed up late watching TV. The 5:45 AM alarm was something I wanted to ignore. I got up and made it to Morning Prayer and Mass, but I was in a mood. However, about half way through Mass, an image from the Song of Songs came to mind, an image of the lover chasing after the beloved. All of the grumpy thoughts that had gone through my head all morning became humorous as I realized how selfish they were; as I realized how much God loves me despite my occasional pettiness.
After communion, I sat and basked in His love. I felt my pettiness and grumpiness fade away. I started to feel joyous as I allowed those feelings to die. I’m still tired and not feeling all that great, but by allowing his love to smother the selfishness, I found joy. By dying to my selfish and petty attitude I found myself overflowing with his love. Then, at breakfast, I hope I was able to pass on some of that love to the people with whom I came in contact. God is love, and when we encounter him who is love, we, too, have the potential of becoming love as he is love. When we encounter his love, we love him in return.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering the place of love in your religious and spiritual practices and beliefs. How does it motivate you to practice acts of love of God and neighbor? How does it feed your day to day life? Spend some time imagining yourself in his presence and basking in his love. Feel free to show him your faults, all the things you typically hide within, and feel his love for you despite your flaws. Keep in mind that this is not an invitation to validate that it is ok to stay where you are, but an invitation to let love lead you from where you are to the fullness of life.