When I was growing up, I heard my mother say on more than one occasion that we were created by God to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next. This a quote from the Baltimore Catechism, a popular method of teaching the faith in her day. It was in answer to the question: "Why did God make me?"
As a young girl, I was troubled by this statement because for me it described a one-way relationship with a distant God. The beginning of this statement “to know him, to love him and to serve him in this world" painted a picture in my mind of a miserly God with a very big ego. I thought “what about God loving me?” And the second part “and to be happy with him in the next” also bothered me. Why can’t I be happy with God in this world too?
Lucky for me, this miserly, distant God, clashed with what I felt about God in my heart. The God I knew showered me with kindergarten skies, which I received happily. In my young life, God was the one who knew, loved, and served me. So, I made a decision commensurate with my maturity level at the time. I decided that whoever taught my mother had it all backwards and I chose to ignore that particular teaching.
Over time, however, I came to see that when we take the time to notice God’s love pouring into our hearts, we are consequently filled with a desire to know him, to love him, and to serve him. And this is almost always translated to knowing, loving and serving our neighbor, which is one way to have a relationship with God.
I can’t help but believe that this is why God created us – so that we may receive pure, restorative, and divine love that inspires union with God through one another. Can you see how God’s love grows with such a progression? It seems to me that God knows exactly how extraordinary his love is and chooses to create it over and over again in us.
At the time of our creation, God plants in our hearts, not only his love for us, but also his desire for our love in return. Such a return creates a never-ending circle of love, of which we become a willing participant.
During Advent we cry, Come Emmanuel, a name which means “God with us.” How is it possible that we need to ask for something that is already ingrained in our being?
Our church very wisely offers this season of Advent to help us remember why we were created. And in so doing, we are better able to complete the task of Advent, to prepare the way of the Lord. But that word “prepare” can trigger long to-do lists in our mind, which may well be running in your head right now.
Let’s stop the lists for just a minute and have a look at preparing for “God with us.” Perhaps first, the better word is “remember”. Remember the way of the Lord. God’s way has left an imprint on each one of us, a fact which, due to our powerfully distracting human nature, we sometimes forget.
When we take the time to remember our origins, we connect with the pure love that fills us. When we remember our beginnings in God, we are sustained with all the energy and strength we need for this life. And when we embrace our recalled union with divine love we are then ready to prepare the way of the Lord.
So let’s take some time to remember the love that is created within us. It is the same love that inspired God to become incarnate as Jesus. Jesus took our imperfect human form to live, suffer, and die as we do for one reason: so that we may know a love which is beyond all understanding.
We don’t understand this love, but we do know it, don’t we? At some time in our lives, we have all had a glimpse of God’s love for us. Maybe in the glance of a dear friend, the hug from a loving parent, the beautiful colors of the changing leaves against a blue sky, or a deeply quiet feeling of peace within us. Sometimes, we feel this glimpse with such intensity that a glimpse is all we need and perhaps all we can bear.
We plan to pray, attend mass and serve one another. But what if your plans have nothing to do with your desires, what if your plans are really an answer to God’s call? What if you are simply saying yes to the groanings of your divine soul? We think we want to pray, but isn’t it really us responding yes to Jesus who says “Come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened”?
Take time to remember the glimpses of the love God has given you and look at them again in the presence of God. Ask God to show you his message of love for you. Share how much you need that right now as you strive to be in this world with all its difficulties. And wait in certain Hope that your prayer will be heard. How could it not be? Surely, any dialogue with God is part of the growing circle of love he created. It would be impossible for God not to hear you and respond tenderly.
We come to understand Advent, when we wait in certain Hope for the love that surpasses all understanding AND exists for love for you. There is nothing more powerful, more supportive and more joyful than being filled with God’s promised Love. It may seem difficult to accept such a love, but be brave and remember you were custom made only for this.