A retreatant recently shared with me his aspiration. "I want to recapture the great feeling I once had of God’s love in my heart."
Several weeks later, a middle-aged man told me that his marriage of less than 20 years had grown stale. The couple no longer felt any love for each other. He also admitted he had strong "feelings" for a co-worker.
Though they faced different challenges, their solution was essentially the same: to recapture a "feeling" of love.
Our Lord however didn’t tell his disciples that those who love him would have a warm "feeling" in their heart. He said: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
To that well-meaning retreatant, the Lord is saying: stop searching for feelings in your heart. I won’t be there. To that middle-aged man ready to jettison a "stale" marriage, the Lord is saying: When the Father and I are dwelling with you we can even revitalize your "stale" marriage.
To all of us, the Lord is saying don’t be misled by feelings. They come and go. Instead, every day in whatever the circumstances of our lives, keep his commandments. And the Lord and his Father will dwell with us. Love is not something we feel; it’s a Christ-like self-surrendering choice we make.
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.