Prayer, Remaining in His Love
These words in John’s Gospel have to be some of the most remarkable in the New Testament! “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9 That Jesus loves us with such vehemence as like the love between Father and Son in the Trinity! This has to be the greatest unmerited gift that God could give us! The response to this love that God has for us has to be something infinitely more than living a good moral life and service to others as important as this is. There is today a rather persistent tendency to reduce all Christianity to morality and to the neglect the deep encounter with God in a prayerful and contemplative life.
The Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes beautifully reminds us of our relationship with God. “The root reason for human dignity lies in humanity’s call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of our origin, we are already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by Gods love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator.” GS 19 § 1
Our response to God has to be deeply loving and fervent! Prayer is an ultimate experience of our love. It should happen when Jesus comes and meets us. We can see the anatomy of Prayer in Mt 28:9 “And behold, Jesus met (hupantao) them (the women) and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” First of all Jesus meets us and makes us aware of His presence. The word for meet or encounter in the original inspired Greek text is hupantao i,e, a derivative of ἀντί before. God comes and appears anti before us. He must make the first move. Prayer is not only hard but impossible if He does not make that first move. Nobody sees Jesus unless He reveals Himself. That is what we call grace.
Then like the women in Matthew’s Gospel, we must come to Him and grasp (Greek krateōie strong hold) His feet so He won’t leave. The women were determined to keep Him close. They then worshiped His divinity. We must be careful that our God is not too small in our prayer. Matthew’s account shows how we can “abide in His love” by prayer’. Today we celebrate the feast of St Francis De Sales. He in his wonderful way reminds us how “to remain in His Love”. “Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.