Monday, October 21, 2013

Devotion for today: I love you

Matthew 18:1-5: At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

For the past few months I have had the wonderful blessing of caring for my five month old granddaughter. The experience has changed my life in many ways. After a particularly rough year on several levels, l have grown a little disgruntled, cynical, and maybe somewhat discouraged at how I see the world. My granddaughter Elena has changed all that. Her joy, excitement, unabashed delight and love for all things in her world have rubbed off on me. I find myself delighting in tree leaves rustling in the wind as Elena smiles, captivated by the movement. I marvel at the light cast from a lamp outside the nursery window as Elena giggles at the shadows forming on the sidewalk. I cannot resist a laugh as Elena’s eyes grow wide with wonder as she stares from her stroller at a large dog coming our way. Life is a treasure to be opened every day to Elena, and I find I am facing each day in the same way.

One little example which has changed my spiritual life involves Elena’s favorite doll. She is very tiny with a cute smiley face and soft body. When a button inside her tummy is pushed, the little doll, in a soft sweet voice, says, “I love you;   l love you.” Oh! How Elena’s face beams as she holds the doll, squeezes her and wiggles with delight. I can push that button for five straight minutes and Elena never tires of hearing those words. Usually I am the one to call it quits, having the attention span the size of a flea, and I present her with other toys that ring, sing, crinkle, and otherwise over stimulate her. She tolerates them for a tiny bit, and then makes it clear she has had enough. Smart little girl! She is much happier for me to hold her in my arms with the little love doll and peacefully hear the message for which we all long in our lives.

Imagine if we all became like little children (remember, Jesus said child-like, not childish) and found complete contentment resting in God’s arms, listening to His sweet voice whisper in our ears, “I love you; I love you.” He does, you know. He whispers this to us all day long. The problem is, we are too busy listening to our music, talk radio, TV shows, each other, to hear Him. Like the toys that ring, sing, crinkle and otherwise over stimulate Elena, we, too, are victims of over stimulation in today’s world. Can you imagine not just taking a few minutes to pray and listen, pray and speak, pray and participate in Mass, but to spend the entire day tuned into God’s voice saying, “I love you; I love you”? Can you imagine finding the message in every single event that occurs in our lives, in every person who is placed in our path, every single marvel of nature we observe in our day? Can you imagine letting God’s voice fill the silence we could create for Him if we just turned off the world and tuned into Him?

Of course, it works both ways. What if we spent every waking minute saying to God, “I love You; I love You” by every single thought, work and deed we allowed to enter into our day? What if our prayer life consisted more in saying “I love You” instead of “I need, I need, I need, I want, I want I want.” What if we freely told those around us, our families and friends, people who sacrificed to make a difference in our lives, co-workers and neighbors, “I love you” by actually saying it to them, by showing it when someone goes out of his way to help us, by meaning it when we avoid gossip about someone we know, and by exemplifying it by shoveling a sidewalk or buying groceries for elderly neighbors? What if we let young people know we love them by being available for them to come and talk, about anything? Teen suicide, depression among the elderly, loneliness in families forced to move every few years and many other societal problems can be solved by the beautiful sound and action of the words, “I love you.”

Let us learn a lesson from Elena and her little doll. Let us go forth into the world sharing our love in every situation, relationship and place in which God has planted us. Let us not just sit for a few minutes in silent prayer: let us spend our entire lives, cuddled in God’s arms, hearing His sweet voice whisper in our ears, “I love you; I love you.” Thank you, Elena, for reminding me why God asks us to choose life. It simply leads to love. 

I love you, Jesus my love, 
I love you with all my heart. 
I repent of ever having offended you.
Never permit me to separate myself from you again.
Grant that I may love you always,
and then do with me as you wish. (The Way of the Cross, St. Alphonsus)

What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong