2 Corinthians 1: 128-22, Matthew 5:13-16
God is faithful and consistent, even when we are not. God is the same, yesterday, and today and forever (CF Heb. 13:8). God manifests his ever-faithful love through Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son who is the Savior of the human race. Recall these words taken from the prophet Jeremiah. “I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore, with loving kindness I have drawn you to myself” (Jer. 31:3). Because we are made in the image and likeness of God, we have an innate need to love and to be loved. When we look to Christ’s outstretched arms, nailed to the cross, we see the pledge of the Father’s absolute and unconditional love for us. The evangelist John recorded these words of Jesus. “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (Jn. 12:32). The burning question: when he is lifted up, are we willing to lift up our eyes and see that our redemption is near at hand? Will we stretch out our arms to embrace him who stretched out his arms for us?
The message of the Cross is that God loves us despite the way we are so that we might be saved and redeemed. His love for us began at the beginning of the world and will remain through all eternity. It is extended to each of us despite our faithlessness and sin. While the nature of God’s love never changes, this does not mean that we enjoy that love. God’s unconditional love hinges on the condition that we are willing to surrender to it. God, who humbled himself for our sake, asks us to humble ourselves for his sake. God calls us to be willing to be changed. this change will ultimately result in our death to self.
Through baptism, we have been grafted to Christ who grafted himself to us because of the Father’s love for us. He emptied himself of His rightful glory as of the Son of God and allowed Himself to become the Son of Man, born of the ever-virgin Mary. If we want to live in the love of God, we must be willing to be changed from the sons of men into the image of the Son of God. The measure we give will determine the measure we receive. We must be willing to surrender all we are to him who poured himself out for the love of us.
How great is Your love, Lord, faithful and true. We cannot begin to comprehend its full measure, or the price You paid to make it available to us. Forgive us for the times we may have taken it for granted. Draw us with the bands of love to the place of surrender so that we may be identified with Jesus, your only begotten Son. May we be set ablaze with the flame of divine love. United to Christ who is the Light of the World, may we be a lamp in the darkness so that others may find the path of life.