I finally am getting back to reading Mother Teresa’s, Come Be my Light (with commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk), which I started several times but kept getting sidetracked to other things. A lot of the publicity about the book focused on her years of desolation and her reaction to the long period of darkness she endured. Many years before her period of desolation, however, Teresa bound herself to a vow “to give God anything that He may ask – ‘Not to refuse Him anything.’” She determined she would rather die than to refuse Jesus anything, not matter how small.
That is a pretty serious commitment and one can imagine that the heavy weight of such a commitment might bear down on someone. But it is clear that Teresa found great joy in giving Jesus whatever He asked of her. And what is also clear is that she was able to live under such a grave vow because she lived in absolute certainty that God loved her unconditionally. “[S]he trusted that His will for her would always be an expression of that unfailing love, however difficult or even impossible it might be at times to fathom His designs. Consequently, even when she was challenged seemingly beyond her ability, her preious experiences that God had never failed her assured her that she could take the risk once again. Only this certainty that she was loved unconditionally could have given her enough confidence to abandon herself to God so completely and without reservation.”
Far too many people struggle with what Teresa had absolute certainty of. They live with the belief that there are conditions to God’s love and that they can lose God’s love if they don’t do the right things. A crucial step on any spritual path is understanding that God loves me unconditionally and there is nothing I can do to lose that love. And when I talk about understanding here, I am not talking about intellectual knowledge. It is very easy to assent with our brains to the proposition that God loves each of us unconditionally. What I am talking about here is knowledge and understanding at the level of the heart – knowing to the core of our being – that God so loves us and that we can never be separated from that love.
What better time to try to get in touch with the extent of God’s unconditional love than during Holy Week. As Pope Benedict observed in Spe Salvi, “Man is worth so much to God that he himself became man in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way—in flesh and blood—as is revealed to us in the account of Jesus’ Passion.”
The Body and Blood of Christ, given up out of love. Christ dying for us. And not only dying, but also rising so that God may be, not just with us, but in us forever.
May we grow in our heartfelt understanding of God’s endless and unconditional love of us.