His Love Will Not Disappoint

by Fr. David Linder, director general of MH priests

Sometimes when we stand before the beauty of young people making their promises, giving their lives to God, I wonder how many of them, how many of us, over the years, have asked the question, “Will I be happy in this life, in this commitment?”

Does God want us to be happy? In Philippians 4:4, St. Paul says: I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord. I repeat, what I want is your happiness.

Let’s expand this question: Will I be happy without a spouse and children? Will I be happy without living near my family, my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews?

Will I be happy without the comfort and security that we can try to acquire in this life? Will I be happy without even knowing where I’ll be living and serving two years from now?

A few weeks before Promises Day, they put out cards for us to sign for all the people making promises, those here and those in our missions. So we sign 20 cards or so and occasionally I write something that I believe with my whole heart: “His love will never disappoint.” His love is a sure recipe for happiness.

Jesus in the Gospel invites us to abide in his love. One of the translations of that line—remain in my love (John 15:9)—a line that I just love is: “Make your home in my love.”

His love is not a cozy place. Though it is sometimes, usually it’s not comfortable. But God wants us to make our home in that love even though it is not comfortable or cozy Actually, in truth, its the most secure, joy-producing place on the planet.

It’s a challenging place because it requires an exchange of love. In these gospel texts, especially in John’s Gospel where Jesus says, “abide in my love,” he also says it’s a mutual abidance: Abide in me as I abide in you (John 15:4).

This very love in which we find our security and our joy and our happiness also sends us to love him in others—in the hungry, the lonely, the shelterless, and those in any form of bondage. As St Augustine says, Christ is still suffering in his members.

That is not a comfortable place to love, but it’s the most needed one. God’s love awaits our love there, and his love will never disappoint.

What we witness in these promises is a consecration of one’s life. It’s a gift. It’s a gift of self to the very One who has given everything to save us. It’s a response to Love itself, and his name is Jesus.

This consecration through Madonna House is not lived in some remote convent or monastery but in the midst of the world, “the marketplace,” even when it’s the marketplace of Combermere. This is the marketplace in the biggest sense of the word.

In a recent Italian film about Chiara Lubich, the foundress of Focolare (one of the new lay communities and movements) L’Amore Vince Tutto (Love Conquers All), there is a surprise scene.

All of a sudden, the scene shifts to a dark bedroom with just enough light to see the main character. She is wide awake. She looks over at her clock and it says 5:30 a.m. So she gets up, fixes her hair, and puts on earrings and a special dress.

I am wondering what is happening. She walks to the church through a heavy downpour, and consecrates her life to God before a priest.

Then you know why she put on her earrings and that special dress that she doesn’t wear except on very special occasions.

There is something that just delights me in that part because you don’t do that except for the beloved. You dress in that way, you make yourself beautiful, for the Bridegroom.

Well, that’s what I was seeing in that scene and that’s why I loved it so much. There was no veil, there was no habit (not that there’s anything wrong with a veil or habit)—just a beautiful dress and some earrings and a heart that wants to give itself forever to God even though the priest had said earlier, “Hum, I’m not sure about this.”

We see a little bit of Catherine in this. Who gave their life to God outside of the convent or monastery back then? Nobody. And yet the Holy Spirit pushed people like our foundress and like Chiara Lubich to do just that.

That same spirit today, in 2022, is pushing these young people, has pushed us over the years. That is what we are seeing here in this consecration, these Madonna House Promises, this gift of self.

The first reading at this Mass—Col. 3:12-17—is a blueprint for happiness, and not just in this life. It’s a blueprint for happiness in any Christian’s life.

You see a horizontal and vertical dimension in this reading. The vertical is the divine dimension. Let the word of Christ dwell in you, let the peace of Christ rule in your heart—sovereign over anything that threatens that peace, and let the love of Christ animate everything. This is huge.

This horizontal dimension spreads out into the compassion, kindness, and humility that marks this person’s life—and the meekness, patience, forgiveness, and gratitude for everything.

Let your hearts be a song of gratitude. That’s also something we are touching here today: a life given to God is a song of gratitude.

Do you want joy in this life? Then take to heart the words of St. Paul in Col. 3:12-17. Take to heart the Gospel today—John 15:9-17.

As we all clothe ourselves with the love of Christ, he will bind us together into a unity, a sobornost that will show the face of the Beloved to many. His love will never disappoint you.

Adapted from the homily at the June 8th Mass at which young members renewed their Madonna Promises.