“We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Do you really believe that God loves you? There is a priest who sometimes says Mass at Saint Irenaeus, Father Blaska, who invariably will say at the end of Mass, “Do you realize that God loves you? Well, He does.”
Well, it is apparently a pretty big step in the spiritual life when we truly believe and sense that God really loves us. “God loves us most tenderly,” says Father Faber, “and has loved us from all eternity, and God yearns that we should love Him, and [reaches out] to catch our love as if it were a prize….”
But, …”strange to say, for some reason or other, it is very hard to persuade a man (or for him to persuade himself) that God loves him. The moment that fact [that God truly loves him or her] becomes a part of his own sensible convictions, a perfect revolution has been worked in his soul. Everything appears different to him. He has new lights, and feels new powers. He is a new man. It is a kind of conversion.”
Regrettably, however, “many go their graves without at all realizing practically the immense love which God has for them. It has been a want in them all through their lives, and they would have been higher in heaven had they known on earth what heaven has now taught them. It is the grand date in everybody’s life, when the knowledge that his Creator loves him passes into a sensible conviction.”
Why, then, does God love us? Saint Augustine says that “God has made us for Himself.” That’s why God loves us: He sees in us the “image and likeness” (see Genesis 1:27) of His Infinitely Blessed Self, the true, Eternal love, an image restored by the righteousness of our brother, Jesus Christ. And God is Love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way:
“Of all visible creatures only man is ‘able to know and love his creator’. He is ‘the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake’, and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, In God’s own life. It was for this end he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity.” (CCC 356)
This you can trust wholeheartedly: that “you are loved by the love of an unspeakably holy God.” “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
Source: I am quoting extensively, with some editing, from The Creator and the Creature by F.W. Faber, especially pages 352-354. For further inquiry as to why God loves us?, see Chapter II of Book II entitled, “Why God loves us” beginning on page 127.
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