Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

First and only love

The other day I was reading about Pope Francis' meeting with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, and was struck by these words in particular:

I encourage you, as I do so often with consecrated persons - "to return to your first and only love". Keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart, to care for the lost and hurting... to show by your lives and your works the passionate and tender love of God for the little ones...

An even more urgent and poignant call the morning after yet more violence and hatred, this time in Las Vegas, to add to all the violence and hatred everywhere else...

Return to your first and only love... The God, revealed to me in Jesus, who first captured my heart almost thirty years ago, and has held it ever since...

Return to your first and only love... Except that, even allowing for a religious phase in my teens, I cannot truly say that God, or Jesus, was - chronologically - my first love. Several years before God swept into my life and I fell deeply, unashamedly, joyously in love with him, I already knew, very well, how it felt to be swept off my feet by a boyfriend. And yet, in another, deeper way, God is my first love: not chronologically but primarily; not first in time but first in my heart and in my life. After all, what else is religious life about - what else am I about? - if not a constant, unwavering witness to the primacy of God?

Return to your first and only love... Alas, whatever my deepest desire, other, lesser loves do exist! If they didn't, I'd surely be single-mindedly striding along on the path to sanctity; instead, I stagger and stumble and get all too easily distracted. I want this, covet that, put myself first: my gaze unfixes itself from Jesus and roams around other delights, before finally, eventually returning home - because fundamentally, to Who or where else would I want to go? No, not yet my only love, but still the One which trumps all others: the Love divine, all loves excelling whose only-ness is my aim. And the abundant Love which needs to be the Source for all my other love and loving, and from which they have to pour forth.

May I - may we all - return and return again, and remain true to our primary, all-excelling Love, learning from him how to love with a truly human, passionate and tender heart. It's what our poor, bruised, grieving world so desperately needs right now.

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