By Mary Mertes
Sometimes, we don’t hear the answers to our prayers. The solution doesn’t come immediately, or it comes in a way we didn’t expect, or we forget we even asked and it’s not until something prompts us to look back that we can see God’s hand in things.
I try to keep a spiritual journal and look back on it every once and a while. A trend I see repeated over and over is that my greatest moments of impatience are quickly followed by the answers I seek. When I reach the point where I feel hopeless and am begging for answers, the next entry in my journal will be thanking God for revealing the next step I should take.
In this week’s psalm, we proclaim “I love you, Lord, my strength.” It can be easy to forget that everything we have, everything we are, is a gift from God who continually sustains us. The Lord is our strength, our refuge, our deliverer, and his boundless generosity asks us to respond in kind. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind,” Jesus tells the Pharisees in today’s gospel. We are asked to love as we are loved and to share that love abundantly with our neighbors- it’s a seemingly impossible request. There are days when loving God is the hardest thing I do and loving my neighbor feels like an insurmountable task. It’s in those moments when my prayer switches from “God give me strength” to “God be my strength” and He never disappoints. Most of the time, I don’t notice until later that the burden I was crumbling under becomes increasingly light or that the right person called me up and walked with me.
Jesus does not ask us to have a perfect understanding of love, instead he comes to us as one of us and lifts us to him. He gives us grace we can’t comprehend and invites us to become one with him as we receive his Body.
How often do we come to Mass preoccupied by our work and our families? Here, in this space, we are asked to enter fully into this expression of our love as we offer our time and attention to God. In the Eucharistic Prayer we are asked to lift our hearts to the Lord and give him thanks. This is the perfect moment to set aside the things of the world that are weighing us down and offer our hearts to the Lord so that we may learn to love as he does. We are called to place our focus completely on the sacrifice of Christ before us as we prepare our hearts to receive him and to allow ourselves to be transformed.
Today, let us pray that God will increase our faith, hope, and charity so that we may learn to love what he commands. He will provide us with the grace to love as he does if we ask, even if we don’t immediately see the results.