Falling into the Abyss of God’s love

Holy Thursday 2012
John 13
Marian Free

In the name of God who kneels at our feet and asks that we allow God to love us. Amen.

My father of course blessed me in many ways. I would like to share with you just one.

My Father taught me how to receive the generosity of others with grace and gratitude. I remember clearly when this happened. Our family were well entrenched in the life of our Parish. When Michael and I were overwhelmed by a surfeit of wedding gifts we were receiving my Father dismissed my embarrassment. In fact, he made me recognize how ungracious I was: telling me that those who had given me gifts were doing so out of love for me or out of love and respect for my family. My role in the situation, he pointed out, was to graciously receive the gifts and to dispel any feelings of unworthiness. By receiving their gifts I was allowing the giver to do something that they wanted to do.

It was an important life-lesson that I hope have applied reasonably well. It taught me to accept the kindness of others even when I have felt that it was undeserved, or when I have wanted to exercise my independence and to demonstrate that I didn’t need help.

Today it occurred to me that my Father’s wisdom has a biblical base – in John’s account of the foot washing. Peter’s refusal to allow Jesus to wash his feet demonstrates not humility or self-deprecation but pride and a stubborn resistance to love. He has not learnt the grace to receive. He has not learnt that true love is not based on the worthiness of the recipient but on the generosity of the lover. He has not learnt to allow himself to be vulnerable in his relationship with Jesus and therefore with God. He believes that by refusing Jesus’ act of service he is showing respect for Jesus, when in fact he is throwing Jesus’ love back in his face.

Our pride and our independence do not demonstrate how strong or mature we are, rather they illustrate our weakness and our childishness. It takes courage to allow ourselves to be loved. It takes a great deal of self-confidence to entrust ourselves to the one who loves us. It takes a certain amount of maturity to accept that our imperfections do not prevent us from being loved.

Peter’s false modesty had the opposite effect to that he intended. Instead of demonstrating his love and respect for Jesus, his refusal to be washed showed his unwillingness to receive Jesus’ love and his inability to trust and to be dependent on Jesus.

It is hard to let go everything within us screams that we must do it our self.
It is almost impossible to believe that rather than demanding anything of us, God wants to give us everything.
It is hard to accept that the creator of the universe wants to kneel at our feet.

All the problems of the world are caused by our determination to go our own way, our refusal to trust God’s love for us and our inability to place our trust entirely in God. Yet that is what is required.

Jesus kneels at our feet – do we have the courage to fall into the abyss of His love?

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