– What is God’s will? What is his deepest desire? What is He yearning for day and night?
– He just wants to love us!
What is it to love? It is to give everything and then to give oneself to the person one loves. So, if we say that God is love, that God wants to love us, we are saying: God wants to give Himself to us!
The big discovery that St. Therese makes toward the end of her life on the 9th Jun 1895, is that the torrents of God’s love are actually compressed in Him because He simply cannot find anybody to receive them!
If you love somebody, it pleases you, I guess, to offer this person a present. And if you really love this person, and if you had enough means, you would like to buy this person the most beautiful and most valuable of presents there is. No? You would find great joy to give this present to the person you love, and you would be more than delighted to see his or her reaction.
Why would God be any different from you, in the sense that this is what He yearns for, this is his deepest desire, this is how He is?! This is his very nature. We do say that God’s nature is love! But love is this constant outpouring of oneself. This is his nature.
One can gaze upon a powerful waterfall, say Niagara Falls, and see the sheer power of the water falling, its quantity, and its never-ending movement. Visualise it, or look at a picture, or even better watch a video of this outpouring of water. Then, after having been well impregnated buy this unique phenomenon, say: This IS God, this is how He is, what happens in Him! He can’t change his being, his way of being and acting.
His deepest desire is to pour Himself out into us. Ironically, we are busy trying to understand his commandments, to find how to please Him that we forget the reality of this Being which we have in front of us, who He really is and what is happening in Him – He who has all this love compressed in his heart.
Every time we want to pray or think of God, we need first and foremost to gaze upon a powerful waterfall. Open our heart to Him and accept to receive his love humbly! It doesn’t require a big effort to receive His Love, but it seems that on a practical level we still do struggle! We want to offer Him something, we want to make Him happy, we are searching for ways to put into practice his commandments, and we seem to go astray with the First Commandment: you shall love God with all your heart, energy, power. And what is it to love God if not to receive his love? This is the paradox: we think that we need to give, give, give, and we forget that we can’t give what we don’t have! To love God must first presuppose receiving his love in order to give it back to Him, enriched by our desire and choice to do so.
We often forget the invisible, or hidden verse that lies before the First Commandment: “I God, love you with all my heart, all my energy, all my power, all my being”. This is in fact the hidden verse that lies before: “you shall love God with all your heart…”. It is this hidden, almost shy, reality of God’s love that is the foundation and basis of everything. With all his power, in an unconditional way, God wants to give himself to us.
Note: this verse is hidden. You won’t find it explicitly said. But a proper and deep reading of the Scriptures, in the Holy Spirit, will open our eyes and show us this hidden reality: God confessing to each one of us in a clear irrevocable and unequivocal way that He loves us with all his being and power. Confessing love, such love, shows in fact that God is vulnerable. Hence the fact that the verse is hidden. It is up to us, with an Act of Faith in the Scripture as Word of God, to open our eyes to this amazing and mind-blowing reality: God says to you – to each one of us – personally, intimately, secretly, truly, uniquely, infinitely, eternally that He wants to give himself to you unconditionally, all the time.
St. John of the Cross endorses this when he says that contemplation consists in receiving! We can expand this even more to say: Prayer consists in receiving God’s Love. Our Christian Life, the meaning of our life here on earth is to accept to receive God’s love.
It requires an effort. A delicate effort. It is easy and difficult to do at the same time. Easy because it is just about receiving. Difficult because this simple act, easy act, is not carried out by us! We are complicated beings, we are “multiple” (not unified, not yet one), we want to do other things, more palpable, more quantifiable, more rewarding for our spiritual ego, so we leave this effort at the bottom of our list and we rarely reach the bottom. God is left with this enormous, infinite thirst, and we are left there wandering, here and there, trying to be good Christians! Abandoning ourselves to who He is and to his outpouring seems very difficult! Incredibly this is so because it is unusual, because it looks such an insignificant thing! Surrendering to his being (not only to his will, but to his being, i.e. his outpouring of love) looks difficult. Accepting that this is what He wants, seems not to fit in with our understanding of Christianity. We have transformed Christianity into being good, acting good, doing good things. But we never question what it is to do a “good” thing? What is a good thing?
Why do we so easily forget the First Commandment? It is really the first, no other commandments come before it! We have morphed it into: be good and do good things! Or we have exchanged it for other commandments. Why do we forget God himself? We want to be sure (in our conscience) that we have offered or done some quantifiable good deeds; we want to reduce Christianity into something quantifiable, and we forget that after having accomplished all our “duties”, we are still in debt to God for everything! You might fast, you might do amazing difficult or impossible deeds, you might kill yourself for God, but after all this, you can be sure that it is all nothing in the eyes of God. We easily exchange God for “religious” aspects of our Christian life, such as worship rites, or uses. We think then, in our conscience, that we are fine by doing this!
However, when we examine our conscience, who is the judge? A list of commandments or deeds? How then do we manage to escape from the First Commandment and its hidden verse? How then do we manage to escape from God’s Love?
We are geniuses in inventing “ersatz” – replacement Commandments. We are very good at changing God’s reality. Imagining God our way. In fact, is this the real God that we are facing? Or it is a nicely crafted, reduced and blurred image of Him that we have made? Who is God for me? This question should be there every day in our minds and in our daily quest! Who are you Lord? Reveal yourself to me as you are, I don’t accept fake answers, but want the pure reality of your Being. I don’t want to lean on my ill formed conscience, I want to be formed by your Holy Spirit, with every beat of my heart so I can really understand what you expect from me.
Conversion, daily conversion, is about this first! It is about accepting to let go of my certainties for better certainties given to me by the Holy Spirit, who shows me day after day the true image of God and not a nicely crafted but diminished one!
Our frequent prayer should say: teach me O Lord how to receive you. Teach me to accept a change in my understanding of you to a new understanding. Teach me to be very fervent, but fervent on the essential things, on who you are, what you really want to do in me… Teach me to receive your Love. Teach me the how to truly surrender to you. Teach me to accept my weakness and keep my gaze upon you and not on me! Teach me to accept my poverty, an ever more radical one, so that I can lean essentially on your Constant Outpouring of Love, of your Being in me. Teach me that the Love that comes from you is what you want me to give you, and nothing else.
To sum up then, the most concise expression of this prayer was given by St. Therese of the Child Jesus: “I always gave God only Love.”