God’s love for you

Latin Mass: 13th Sunday after Pentecost
 ‘And one of them went back, and he fell on his face before His feet, giving thanks.’
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Beloved in Jesus Christ, This leper in the gospel today, was full of gratitude for all that the Lord had done for him, healing him. It says, that ‘he praised God.’ ‘He fell on his face giving thanks.’
Let us see today, that this disposition toward God of this leper, is precisely what should be in our own hearts daily.
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Most Catholic children that you ask will say that it is true,[i] that God loves every person with a special love, it is a commonly known fact in our Faith. But when we face this fact squarely, and really consider it, we may actually have difficulty believing it. It is not uncommon for a person to say to their priest, ‘Father, I sometimes am not convinced of God’s love for me.’
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Yet God does not look at us, as just a big group of people, rather, we are each before the Lord, before his eyes of love and affection.
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‘From all eternity, God chose to create you and me, not just another child of our parents, or another American, or just another person to work and then die in the 21st century – No. He made you and me unique and different from any other person who will ever walk the earth.
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Others may have many great abilities; other people may please God more than me or you; but there was something about you which God preferred, something special in you, in your ‘way,’ about you, something – that drew God to create you. This is the faith we must have.
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In Psalm 139 David says: ‘O Lord, you have searched me and you know me; You know when I sit and when I rise, for you formed my inward being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
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The value of each person is greater than the entire material universe put together. This is how dear you are to God.
If this then, is true, then clearly each person belongs to a plan; we have a place, a role in this world, a work to do. It implies that God has given each of us a special mission. Jesus has given us this unique life, and he is asking something of each of us specifically.
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St. Teresa the Little Flower felt this unique concern that the Lord has for each of us, and the sense of the mission he has given. She said, ‘When God stretches out his hand to ask, his hand is never empty, and his intimate friends can draw from him the strength they need.[ii]
St. Teresa would admit, that from the age of 3 she never refused God anything he asked. Why? What did she know about her relationship to her Creator?
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Well, the more that we ponder the specialty of God’s love for each of us, that you and I were made intentionally by God, with a purpose, well- we immediately recognize that we cannot love God as he deserves, we cannot return the favor adequately.
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Recognizing then, this special love God has for you, and me, individually, this is the same thing that makes us feel – fearful. Fearful, that we have not always been such a dear friend to Christ. fearful that we would ever betray God’s love, or forget Him.
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‘Fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom, says the Psalmist.
‘Fear of the Lord is honor and glory,’ says the book of Sirach.
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Even in human relationships, the greater the love, the greater the fear of offending the beloved. Lovers take particular care to please the other and they would dread the thought of offending.
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Well if human love is half fear, then we can say regarding Divine Love, that he who loves most, fears most.
This is the Gift of the Holy Spirit, called ‘Fear of the Lord.’ Father Benedict Bauer says, love of God and fear of God, go hand in hand. We look on God’s goodness, we see his love for us, and then we look at ourselves, and we are filled with fear, lest through our many sins we should lose Him or displease him.[iii]
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‘I shudder to think, says St. Augustine:
‘I shudder because I am so unlike God, but my heart glows because I am so like Him.’
So then, if God made no two of us alike, then he wants us to carry out the special plan he has for us, and nobody else can do it. No one else can do it.
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Sometimes difficulty comes in life: the cross. Jesus is saying, ‘I know this is difficult, but I need you to do this for me, it’s important, part of the big plan, and you are the perfect person to do it.’ ‘I’ve made you this way for just this circumstance.’
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In the Gospel today, this leper first humbly prostrated himself before Jesus; it was through his Awe of Christ then, by which Jesus could tell him, Arise.
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Fr. Gerald Vann[iv] says, our daily prayer should begin with Awe of God. The prayer of a child in the face of Infinity. We must not have the proud familiarity with God that is contempt, rather, the humble familiarity of a child with his Father. To achieve this, we need to have a sense of our sinfulness; then in our misery, we can rise to confidence in His love. This is expressed so well before Holy Communion: ‘Domine, non sum dignus.’ ‘Lord, I am not worthy – that you should enter under my roof.
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This God, who if he wished, could destroy the immense machinery of the universe in a blink of an eye, he who burned five cities with a deluge of fire and flooded the earth – this All-Powerful God is really ours, in a way in which he is no one else’s.
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His arms are not around everyone as a group, with us among them, no. His arms are around our own selves individually. And while we marvel at this personal love God has for us, it also makes us fear that we would ever betray Him.
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Mary understood God’s special love. By the Divine light given her, she knew the infinite greatness and goodness of God’s concern for her, but she also knew her own nothingness.
Mary, this is our joy, to know our nothingness in the face of God’s affection for us. Help us to be worthy of God’s incredible and personal love for us.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.]

[i] This subject of God’s special love for us is found in Spiritual Conferences, Faber, p. 327.

[ii] Story of a Soul, p. 110

[iii] Frequent Confession, p. 214

[iv] The Divine Pity, p. 38

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