Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wednesday after Epiphany: Insufficient and Imperfect Love

"God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world." 1 Jn. 4:16-17

Our love is insufficient: How often do we wish we could love God more? Or realize we are not able to express our gratitude in proportion to the gifts we have received? Or that our selfishness, however small, frustrates us from loving our parents, siblings, friends, romantic other, or children with a completely pure heart? We may have been blessed with that one ecstatic moment, perhaps infinitesimally short, during a prayer when that deep longing is satiated. Or when staring into a lover’s eyes utterly vulnerable but with complete self-forgetfulness. Or when feeling the grasp of a tiny hand on our index finger and realizing how wondrously made we all are. In these grace-filled moments freely given, love overwhelms us both in its reception and our desire to reciprocate. It overwhelms us because we feel bounded by some unidentifiable limit imposed upon us…perhaps our bodies, or time, or space, or our shortcomings or those of others.

Our love is imperfect: If I am being honest with myself, there are many instances when my apparent acts of love do not originate with love but rather something I do to feed my pride and ego. The gesture is present, but the motivation taints it. Or sometimes, I believe I can love myself better than God can by simply choosing something that feels good rather than something I know deep down I have been led. In these cases, I have separated the love within me from God. I fooled myself into thinking I was the source of love. However, since God is the source of love, my expression of it is an imperfect copy at best and a counterfeit at worst.

Despite these constraints and human lapses, I do desire to love authentically and as fully as I am able. The frequent shortfalls only heighten my sensitivities to how I cannot do it myself and that there can be no love except through God. So how can I love my family, friends, and myself most purely?  By remaining in God first. Then love can be brought to perfection within us.

Lord God, keep me within your love, so I may see the afflicted with your eyes, hears the voices of the suffering with your ears, and love those you entrust to me with your heart.

Michael Jamnongjit

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