July 6, 2011

The Mystery of Faithful Love - living signs needed today now more than ever

John Paul II once told priests not to let their "yes" to God become a "no."   This is true not only for priests but for anyone who is consecrated for love and by love.  Besides the priesthood, marriage is a kind of consecration one makes with another person to reveal the indissoluble and faithful love of Christ.  Because Christ's love for the Church cannot be broken, this bond in the sacrament of matrimony is also indissoluble.   Holy Orders and consecrated life also involve irrevocable commitments.  Yet this is exactly what love wants to do - commit itself irrevocably.   This is because love tends to the likeness of the Lord - and God is love.  Whatever our state in life, our solemn pledges establish us in the unfathomable mystery of this faithful love.  Since He has loved us unto death, such pledges are also unto death. It is on the basis of the irrevocable nature of God's love for us that John Paul II appealed to priests to be faithful and whatever our state in life, we need to apply this appeal to our own situation as well.

There is a very grave spiritual dimension to such a life commitment: if anyone tries to break a marriage or any other consecrated way of life, they do great violence to themselves and everyone around them.    Forsaking marriage or religious life or the priesthood is always gravely harmful on both a personal and societal level.  It robs everyone of a sign of God's faithfulness which is owed them by the pledge that one has made.

Pledging the gift of self in love is completely so like the Lord, so God-like, that it requires Divine help to fulfill such a commitment.  It is our dignity to make such an irrevocable gift of self and God always provides the grace for this if we ask.  We must believe in his love more than we believe in human weakness.  If you get married or are ordained or make any other kind of vows with the thought in the back of your mind that "should things get too rough there is an escape hatch" - well, it does not seem to be a very mature pledge of oneself and it certainly does not seem to be anything "like" the way God has chosen to love us.  One does not need God to be faithful in such circumstances.  But when you freely choose to embrace something with the resolve that "no matter what, by the help of God, I have got to make  this work" -- well this is a whole new game.  God can do something with you because you have placed yourself in a situation in which you must rely on Him.

What about those times when we are betrayed and abandoned, when all our deepest aspirations are crushed, when we are misunderstood and taken advantage of, when we stand before the antithesis of all we hoped to achieve by our pledge of love, when disappointment, bitterness and resentment knock at the door of our hearts and when there seems to  be no love left at all?  And, what about those times when we cause such things or do them to those who are entrusted to us?     What about our weaknesses and our dignity?  There is no nice cliche to offer those who find themselves at the foot of the Cross, except to point to the One whom we have pierced and to bring such questions to Him in prayer.  When we trust in Him especially in these circumstances, He is able to reveal his glory.  He will whisper the secret of faithful love when such love seems most impossible to find.

God needs living signs of His faithful love in the world.  Whether we are married or religious, priests or deacons; we who have consecrated ourselves or been consecrated by love and for love must not allow our "yes" to God to become a "no."  Although there are tragic and impossible situations, whenever by ardent prayer we choose to be faithful to one another and to God, it allows God to signify, to show forth his unfailing faithfulness to the world.