by Fr. Jeff Loseke
There is nothing more beautiful—and more terrifying—than to reflect upon the love of God. God’s love is so beautiful and so terrifying because God’s love is utterly real. It is not merely an emotion, a thought, or an ideal. Rather, the love of God is His very self. To stand before the love of God is to stand before Him who made us and who knows us better than we could ever know ourselves. Despite our complete inadequacy before God, we know that He desires that we open up ourselves in order to give ourselves to Him to the best of our abilities—even if it falls short. Love requires an openness that makes one vulnerable.
As human beings, we do such a good job covering up our weaknesses and donning various armors and defense mechanisms all for the sake of protecting our weak and vulnerable selves. On the one hand, we desire love and intimacy. On the other hand, we want to remain in control. We struggle with weakness—both in ourselves and in others. We are often perturbed by our own lack of strength and fortitude, and we are not always gentle and understanding with the weaknesses and shortcomings of others. And so, as an antidote, we must look to the Cross.
The Cross of Jesus Christ is God’s most perfect communication of His love for us. On the Cross, Jesus chose to become weak, broken, despised, and even forgotten. What an act of faith to look at Jesus’ Cross and see God there! To the nonbeliever, one would see only a criminal, beaten beyond recognition, guilty of treason, and left to die on an instrument of profound humiliation and torture. He is a loser, defeated… and yet, in that total emptying of self, He gives all, and He gains all. This is the truth about love, which makes little sense to our secular society that is driven primarily by feelings, emotions, and personal desires.
To understand and relish the truth about love requires one to spend time studying, digesting, and even entering into a relationship with the truth. I use the word relationship to highlight this reality because if God is truth, then to know and relish the truth is to know and relish one’s relationship with God. That relationship, however, ought not to collapse in on itself, however. Therefore, to translate the truth into the way one lives his or her life is necessary for love to be complete. Love must bear fruit, give life, and bring people together. It must be relational, fruitful, and affect the way we live our lives—for God and for others. This is the mystery of love, the mystery of God, and the mystery of the human person. To be open and vulnerable before another in total self-gift is to be real. This is what makes God’s love both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
The Reverend Jeffery S. Loseke is a Priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha and is currently the pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna, Nebraska. Ordained in 2000, Fr. Loseke holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome and is working to complete his doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in interdisciplinary leadership through Creighton University in Omaha. In addition to parish ministry, Fr. Loseke has served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, taught high school theology and college-level philosophy, and has been a presenter for various missions, retreats, and diocesan formation days across the country.
Art: Christ, helped by angels, decorates the believer’s heart wit, 2014 (Wikimedia Commons)