by Jean Lafrance.
(Perhaps) you have a climber’s mentality, and every day you set off to storm God, to overcome him by sheer force. Or maybe you ask God to come to you, reminding him politely that he seems to have forgotten.
Such a prayer and such an attitude make no sense, nor should they exist in a Christian. You cannot seduce God by your offerings and your prayers.
Long ago God came towards you and seduced you. He first loved you to the extent that he gave his Son Jesus Christ to save you. You no longer need to look for him since he has filled the gap that separated you from him.
God needs no persuading. He has long since come right into the midst of his own people, but the tragic thing is that you have not accepted him. He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him (Jn 1:11).
To pray is simply to allow God to look for you and find you. Basically all the teaching about God is to remind you of this presence, this coming of the Son into the world.
The world is not a desert where God is absent, but it conceals the hidden presence of Christ. Think a little about Lent, which might seem a sad and dull time because you stress your efforts and salvation.
Throughout this time God offers the presence of his Son, who died and rose again. You do not have to perform feats of valor to reach him, for he is there within your reach, and he offers himself freely in the bread of the Word and the Eucharist.
What is asked of you is a prolonged contemplation of the love of God which is always coming to meet you. St. Thérèse of Lisieux spoke of this faith in the love of God: “How much more does Your love long to enkindle souls since Your mercy rises to the heavens′ O my Jesus, may I be that happy victim! Consume Your holocaust in the fire of Your divine love.”
You will discover this love, not by your own efforts, but in silent, intense prayer. God will tear away the veil and will show you the treasure of love contained in the heart of his Son.
This awareness of God’s love is a mysterious grace, impossible to put into words and in human concepts, but if one day you experience it, you will understand why St. Dominic and St. Francis wept whole nights saying, “Love is not loved!”
If you receive the grace of this discovery, you will realize how hard and impervious is your heart. Your great sin is knowingly to refuse to allow yourself to be loved by God.
Christ never stops knocking at the door of your heart so that you will open it and share the meal of your heart with him. May the Holy Spirit break your heart of stone, and through this opening he will clear a way for love’s invasion.
In prayer you do not ask God to change his mind and to come all the way to you to love you, but on the contrary you dig deep into your stony heart, so that you may change your own attitude and finally accept the love of God.
Lent is the ideal time for this coming of God into your life. Give yourself up to inner silence to hear God’s voice better. He becomes present in Jesus and calls you to share in the intimacy of the Trinity. Do not imitate the blind Pharisees who did not see the coming of the Father in Jesus.
To be converted is to agree to open your heart to the infinite love of God and that is to open wide your hands to receive the Eucharistic bread. Then you will see what signs of penitence will help you best to welcome Christ. But the essential thing is to be, throughout every day and night, in a state of watching and listening so that you do not miss this rendez-vous with love.
From Pray to Your Father in Secret by Jean Lafrance, pp. 38-40, reprinted with permission and available from Librairie Mediaspaul, Sherbrooke, Quebec, (Phone: 819-569-5535).
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