A love that cannot keep silent
A reflection for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
by Patrick Sullivan
It can be difficult for us to imagine a relationship wherein the other can barely keep silent for love of us.
After all, our experience may be the complete opposite.
Perhaps there are others who refuse to keep quiet about our faults, or still others who like to rejoice in our failings. But to actually encounter another who rejoices in our efforts and what we might become — that is, for many of us, quite a new experience.
And yet that is precisely what we hear in this Sunday’s readings. It is the novel and yet ancient voice of God telling us yet again that His plan for our lives, indeed His plan for the entire world, is one that is born out of love.
This is the paradigm for every mom and dad who desires to imitate the Father. This is also the framework for every pastor intent on loving the sheep in imitation of the Good Shepherd. It is a method of doing things, an approach to our beloved ones that says, I can see what others refuse to see. I can see coming what others have become blind to
. And for that reason, I rejoice.
This is what is so often meant when we as Church speak about activating the imagination and not just the memory. For though we love where we come from and we love our traditions, we know too that what the Lord has planned for us all is also wonderful. It is what we call “the Catholic both/and”.
And in this case, God loves us both
where we begin and
where we can end up if we strive to become what we have been called to be.
Don't make the mistake, however, in thinking that this love is contingent
— as if somehow the gifts that St. Paul talks about in our readings or what we might become are the reasons for our being loved.
Not at all.
After all, how could they be?
I am the father of nine children, and I can tell you that with the birth of each and every one of my kids, my love for them was already present the moment I saw their faces. Yet they had not earned that love. In those first few moments of our meeting, my children were certainly not capable or successful or worthy of great honours. They were barely known by the world and considered by only a few. But I loved them all the same.
Could it be any different with God?
His love for us is so great that He loves us even when we are no longer innocent.
His love is so potent that He rejoices in what we can become even when we are stuck and refusing to move from our sin.
His love is so beautiful and clear-sighted that He plans the celebration day long before you and I have been convinced that we are worth rejoicing over.
And because He loves us like this, He cannot keep silent.
Why then do we continue to insist to ourselves and to others — those close enough to hear our whispers — that somehow
and for some reason
God has fallen out of love with us? Or to put it as it is most commonly expressed, that God has forgotten about me.
Could it be because we see a great disparity between our plan for our lives and God’s plan?
Could it be because we want God to give us what we want instead of giving us what He knows we need?
Do you see the problem here?
In spite of all of the scriptures to the contrary, in spite of the entire history of redemption — the rescue mission designed to bring us home — we somehow still struggle to trust that He is for
And it is in the face of this distrust that He still proclaims, “I will not keep silent. For your sake, I will not be quiet … until your salvation is like a burning torch.”
He knows what you can become if you just trust Him. He knows about the celebration to come and the moment when you let your gifts loose so that they can help those He has placed around you.
But dear friend, even if you can’t reciprocate, even if you are like a child lying in the crib with nothing to offer in return, this God will love you all the same.
He is a loving Father. That’s what He does.
The readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, are
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Patrick Sullivan is an author and frequent retreat speaker. His talks have aired on FORMED, EWTN, and Shalom World Media. He is the founder of Evango, a Catholic lay apostolate which uses the new media to re-evangelize the baptized.