Every day I work in the hope that families may come to experience God’s commands not as harsh rules that limit their freedom and make them feel more guilty, but as a Father’s tender care for his beloved children. If only they could understand that all the commandments are gifts given for their flourishing and happiness!
But mostly it feels like I labor in vain.
Sometimes as I explain the process of preparing for the Church’s Sacraments, they nod politely and go on their way. Other times they look at me as if I have two heads and leave. Occasionally, in a larger group, as I do my best to bear witness to a God who loves us infinitely and awaits our loving response of obedience, I see people wiping tears from their eyes. But I rarely see evidence that they welcome what I say, or that what I do makes a difference.
How did I come to know God’s laws as an expression of love? I think it started when I was a child. I believed my mom when she told me discipline was for my good because I knew she loved me. Even when I felt she was being unfair, I believed she acted out of love. She proved her love for me daily.
The people who come for Sacraments don’t know they are loved. They don’t trust me when I say I want to welcome them, that they belong. I must show them they are loved, cherished, and treasured for themselves. I must show them like Christ shows me daily. He showers down grace upon grace. Rather than scolding me for my ingratitude, he keeps offering more gifts, more grace; until I finally open my eyes to the truth of his love.
“For this reason, I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 14-21