Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday: Marinating in God’s Love

“He saw and believed.” – Jn 20:8
“We are witnesses…” – Act 10:39

I live with Fr. Greg Boyle who works with LA gangs for the past 25 years. In his moving book, “Tattoos on the Heart,” he tells the following story about Willie, a homie who was “a charmer, a con man who can coax money out of your ATM if you let him.”

One night, probably on the run, Willie hit up Fr. Greg for $20. So Fr. Greg went to the Food 4 Less ATM on Fourth & Soto. While waiting Willie was especially nervous and fidgety, Fr. Greg told him to put his hands together and pray. When Fr. Greg came back with the $20, Willie was quiet and reflective. There was a “palpable sense of peace” in the car. When asked if he prayed, Willie said “Yeah, I did.” “What did God say to you,” Fr. Greg asked him. “Well at first He said, ‘Shut up and listen.’ So Willie did just that.

When he noticed something different about Willie, Fr. Greg asked: “How do you see God?” “God? That’s my dog right there.” ("Dog" meaning best buddy). When pressed further, Willie with heart overflowing, a tear falling down his cheeks, said: “God … thinks … I’m firme.” (To the homies, firme means “could not be one bit better.”)

I know what Willie means. A few years ago I experienced something incredibly freeing. For most of my life, I live full of fears and worries. I suffer from being a perfectionist, always having to be perfect to earn love, to be worthy of love. It was like being in an empty tomb. I kept wanting to change, people around me said I needed to change; I pressured myself to change; always needing to be measured up for God to love me. At the advice of my spiritual director, I asked God in prayer if God had a problem with my perfectionism many people do, including myself. I listened. To my utter surprise, God said: “I’m fine with you … You’re my Beloved … as you are! … To me, you’re firme …”

This has changed everything about me … it’s changing my story …

Fr. Greg recommends that we should all let this truth of God’s love marinate deep within, like meat in marinating juice for days. Marinate in this intimate, tender, love God has for each of us

An experience like this changes how we interpret the events in our life …

In today’s Gospel, Peter went inside the empty tomb and saw the cloths, he didn’t see anything except the missing body of Jesus. When the disciple whom Jesus loved went in, he saw and believed. Because he had embraced love, he believed and saw things differently. When we love deeply, we see our beloved everywhere, we interpret everything through that relationship.

We all have a story to tell. Not so much with words, but by how we live. How we live is how we tell our story. Will it be a story of tragedy or one of hope? The difference lies with believing in the Resurrection, which gives us lens of hope to interpret the events of our lives. To one who believes all things are possible; to one who doubts, everything is difficult.

We are called to proclaim the story of God’s love with our lives. To let our story speak and draw people into the drama of God’s love. This is what it means to witness, to make known, to testify to our love story with God.

It’s good that the Easter Season lasts 50 days. We have longer than Lent for this truth to marinate in our minds and in our hearts. To be Tattooed on the Heart. To be a good contagion for people around us.

“Risen One, deepen your love in me that I can be a witness to others …”

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