Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Does God Love You?

From our fellow Maryknoller in Hong Kong John Cioppa, In His Own Words.

Do you love yourself? You may not, but God does. When you look into the mirror, do you like the person you see? Do you feel that the "You" OK? God thinks so. Do you believe you are a good
loveable person? God does!

Recently I have been thinking, we have been teaching doctrine backwards. Even we priests in preaching have often emphasized the wrong thing.We have been telling people they are bad, unworthy, sinners,
unloveable, soiled, imperfect, and no good. We have been telling them they have to do lot of things to make God love them. They have to work hard , say a lot of prayers, do a lot of penance, beat their breasts and thenㅡand only thenㅡ, maybe God might like them. We have made life and religion a terrible burden for people, and I think God is unhappy about that. God wants to share His love with people and we have created obstacles instead of helping them come closer to Him.

God doesn't love us because we are good.God loves us and makes us good. I don't know how many times we have heard that God's love is unconditional, unlimited and never changing. I am not sure we believe that. We have created a God that fits our image and have done the same with people.The image we have of ourselves and others may not be what God had in mind.

In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we read that God made us in His image and likenessㅡmale and female. He made each one of us just like Himself. So we are made to look like God, in this image and likeness. Do you believe that? Now what is your image of God? I think most of us believe God is a wonderful, loving, caring merciful, sensitive, compassionate person.We have been taught that and have often experienced God's love and care in our lives.

Now if we are made in the image and likeness of God, we must be like Him. Right? That is, we too must also be wonderful, loving compassionate, caring people.We have been created good, gentle,
loveable, people just like God. And that is why God loves us. Not because we have made ourselves good , but because He made us like himself and
loveable, I don't think we believe that.

We keep struggling to do all kinds of things to make ourselves perfect in order that God might like us.May be we are trying too hard. He already likes us. Take a look at
Scripture. Who does God love most? Is it the priests of the temple, the doctors of the law, the Scribes or Pharisees who kept the law? These are the people who studied hard, obeyed the law, did all the right things and tried to make themselves good, to make
God like them. But who are the ones that God loves most? Aren't they the poor, the sick, the dumb, those possessed by devils, the prostitutes, the sinners? Aren't these the ones that God loves most?

Incredible? Yes it is, but just believe it. God loves you today just as you are. If you are young or old, a sinner or saint, sick or well. God loves you just the same, just as you are. And you know what? His love doesn't change. It is the same today as it was the day you were born. It is always the most and you cannot do anything to make Him love you more. His love is already the most. How can it be any more!

Points for a Private Retreat

One of our Maryknollers who was interested in getting Catholics to spend time in a private retreat recommended working with a game at the beginning of the retreat.

1) Write in a journal twenty words that I think describe me and my personality.

2) Reflect on each of these terms, I will make any changes that seem needed.

3) Mark each item that I consider to be good with an X.

4) Count the number of Xs and multiply by five.

Example, if the total is 75, this means that about 75% of the time I have a good opinion of myself and that I like myself that much . This is really an exercise which helps me to get some insight into what I think about myself and whether I like myself or not. 75% would actually be higher than a lot of people give themselves.

Another way for me to look at this game is to note that it is like scoring God's work. In the above example I gave God 75% for the job he did in creating me. When I read the first chapter of Genesis, I discover that God looked at what was created and said "this is very good." That means that God gave creation at least a 90% rating. When God created me God said, "this is very good." Am I saying something different from God? Is there something here I need to reflect on and do something about? The first chapter of Genesis says very clearly that God likes me and loves me and thinks of me as good. Do I think differently? Am I calling God wrong?

During the retreat, and later on , It is a good idea for me to reflect on the various words I used to describe myself. This kind of mediation can very often help me to gain a deeper understanding of myself and put me in a better position to improve my relationship with God. It can also give me insights into the kinds of things that I may need to reform my life. Many things are here for which I need to say thanks to God. Most likely there are also things for which I need to say I m sorry, forgive me Lord , and help me to change what needs to be changed.