Fr Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, the author of more than 50 books on spirituality, after a distinguished teaching career went to share his life with people with mental disabilities, as a pastor of L’Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto, Canada. In one of his reflection on life he said, “Stop wandering around. Instead, come home and trust that God will bring you what you need. In your whole life you have been running about, seeking the love you desire. Now it is time to end that search. Trust that God will give you that all-fulfilling love and will give it in a human way. Before you die, God will offer you the deepest satisfaction you can desire. Just stop running and start trusting and receiving.”
How many of us here can honestly tell ourselves that what Fr Nouwen says is very true about our lives . . . that we should stop running and end the search for the love we desire and should come home and trust that God will bring us what we truly need?
In today’s Gospel, Mary’s “Yes” to the Angel Gabriel to accept to be the Mother of Jesus, the Son of the Most High is the purest and most powerful expression of this truth to stop searching for the love we desire from the secular world because the deepest form of this love is found in trusting God who will bring us what we truly need in life.
If we recall and reflect on our lives, if we ask ourselves what is truly fulfilling and gives us deep meaning in life, I can assure you that nothing materialistic, nothing that is glorious in the secular world can give us the deep and lasting love that our hearts desire. The deep and lasting love that all human heart longsfor can only eventually come from loving God.
Fr Joseph Neuner,S.J. a close friend and spiritual director of Mother Teresa shares that the “ Padma Shri award " was Mother Teresa’s first important award. However, this award did not inflate her with pride; she had grown above that danger. Her union with Jesus gave her the freedom which made her independent of praise and blame. When great honours were poured on her all over the world it did not affect her in the least. She had abandoned everything to God, her whole being. This was the intimate lifespring of her spirituality, which, I felt, must be preserved for her Sisters.”
Fr Joseph Neuner,S.J
She accepted this recognition, as she would future ones, with gratitude, in the name of and for the sake of her poor. All she aimed at was to remain a real Missionary of Charity as was Mary, whom she called “the first Missionary of Charity.” “Like Our Lady, (in today’s Gospel), Mother Teresa exhorted her sisters, “let us be full of zeal to go in haste to give Jesus to others.” (ref. Mother Teresa, “Come be my Light – the Private Writings of the ‘Saint of Calcutta,” edited, with commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk,M.C.; pub. Doubleday, New York; 2007; p. 229.)
My brothers and sisters in Christ, if we want God’s love to fill our hearts we would have to learn to trust God more wholeheartedly; I mean more “wholeheartedly” and not half-heartedly where on one hand we say to God, “Lord, God I want to love you, but at the same time we find ourselves still seeking after the love of the secular world of materialistic gains, popularity polls and glory of all forms.
Mother Teresa’s union with Jesus gave her the freedom that made her independent of all praise and blame. When Our Lady said, “from now on all generations will call be ‘blessed’ . . .” she was not drawing consolation from the praises that people will give her, but the consolation of playing a central role making God’s dream a reality through saying “Yes” to God’s Will.
Mary, as a Jewish girl knew very well that this “Yes” to God meant that she would in all probability be condemned and stoned to death. Yet, Mary also knew that the only way forward was to simply trust that God will provide her with all her protection and needs. So, the angel Gabriel told Mary, “Do not be afraid . . . you have won God’s favour.” From the day Mary said “Yes” to God, she never turned back from her decision; she remained single-minded throughout her life in her obedience to the Father’s Will. Her love for God and God’s love for her kept her going regardless of the temptations, trials and tribulations she had to face.
There is a story of George Menezes’ wife who one day found out that she was heading for an irreversible and total kidney failure. To make a long story short, George wrote to his wife’s brothers and sisters for the gift of a kidney. Her brother Cyril wrote back immediately, “You can have my kidney. If I have two hearts, I would have been also happy to give you one. Three months after a successful kidney transplant the kidney developed a cancerous growth cause by the anti-rejection drug. The Harvard Medical School advised that to kill the life-threatening cancer it was necessary to allow the kidney to be rejected and go back to dialysis.
“No way,” Mrs Menezes said, “it is my own brother’s kidney. He gave it to me from the abundance of his love. God will not allow a gift of love to be rejected.” So, that night, she went dancing . . . defying death and dialysis . . . and the next day, together with George, visited their daughter in England and then visited friends in Germany.
My sisters and brothers in Christ, love is more important than staying life. To live is to love . . . and to love is to live meaningfully . . . and the greatest of all forms of love is God’s love for us and our love for God; everything else comes through this reality. And if love is absent or cannot be found, then in all probability, we are searching for the wrong type of love in life.
George Menezes wife would rather die of kidney failure than to reject the gift of his brother’s love. We could almost hear her saying, “death? I am not afraid; who cares; to appreciate my brother’s love is more important. Mother Teresa could receive countless of awards from all over the world, but of all these awards, only one award truly matters; the award of eternal life that awaits her when she dies. Our Lady too had one purpose in life and that is to live God’s Will in her life; and if she should be stoned to death, she too would say, “I am not afraid; and even if I am to be stoned, it is going to be worthwhile as to be able to die for God and in obedience to His Will is an honour.”
What about us? If were to look into our hearts, would it echo similar words of George Menezes’s wife, Mother Teresa or Our Lady? If so, then we can rejoice on this Feast of the Holy Rosary because together with Our Lady, we can also say, “I am the handmaid of Our Lord.” To be able to say this is to have found the deepest satisfaction and love we can ever hope to have in life; the Love of God that never fails; So, stop running and start trusting God and receiving all the graces He wants to gives; abundantly and daily.”
Fr Philip Heng,S.J.
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