When we look upon the cross, we see God’s heart laid open for us. On the cross we see God’s compassion and determination to meet us where we are, love us for who we are, and open us to healing and wholeness.
The cross is not proof of God’s love but a consequence of God’s love and of the wound that all humans bear. The cross is the salve, the healing balm that goes directly to the source of that wound.
The essence of the wound that afflicts us all is the illusion and belief that we are separate from God. This illusion makes us look to ourselves as the center of our lives, actions, and security. The fact is, God is the center: God loving us unconditionally and holding us in existence. Whenever, in any way, we forget this, we reopen the wound. That is why so many of our best intentions are destructive or ineffective. They place us once again at the center of our lives. They inflict and reinforce our illusion of separation from God who is love for us.
When I hear confessions I often wait until the person has completed the list of things for which he or she is sorry and then I ask, “Of all these things you’ve mentioned, which one is the most important to you right now? Which one would you like to have God help you with?” It is a way of trying to help the person connect to God rather than their feelings of guilt.
Very often their answer is, “Patience. I want to be more patient with my husband, my wife, my children, and the people I work with.”….We will not overcome impatience by being impatient with ourselves. Trying to change ourselves usually doesn’t get very far because we are caught in a spiral of self-destruction.
For these people St. Alphonsus’ advice would translate into, “Instead of taking this change upon yourself, start with God’s patience and love for you. Whenever you catch yourself being impatient, remember God’s patient words, ‘You are my beloved….’” Remembering God’s patient love gently and patiently releases the pressure that comes from our reliance on our self, our ego-mind, and will. Remembering God’s patient love reminds us that God is the center of our lives and to make room for healing.
Excerpted from Why God Loves Us No Matter What by Fr. Ken Sedlak, CSsR, © 2007 Liguori Publications, product code 816277.
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