Returning Christ’s Embrace – Br. Michael Hardgrove
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus utters a profoundly anguished lament over his beloved people, and the hardness of their hearts. Yet in his grief he also speaks of his deep and abiding faithfulness towards them and his desire to envelop them in the embrace of his unconditional love. His message then was the same it is to us today: stop running from God’s love, turn back and be saved. I think the Gospel today invites us to see the ways in which we are still opposing, running from, and rejecting the love of Jesus Christ.
Many of Jesus’ own people opposed His invitation to live in the fullness of God’s love, just as we do today. All of us have resistance to what Jesus invites. Speaking of Jerusalem, He exclaims “how often have I wanted together your children as a hen gathers her brood under her wings—and you would not!” This rather striking image of Jesus as a hen, protecting her brood from the fox, sacrificing herself, if need be, speaks to something deeply instinctive within us: the desire to be sheltered in a loving embrace, and to know that we are truly safe and deeply loved. If the image of a hen doesn’t quite resonate with you, think of a mother nursing her newborn baby, protecting her in the warmth of her embrace. That desire to be with her child, that indescribable love, that unconditional love, which extends from the core of the mother’s being. Loving her child more than life itself is as natural for her as breathing or drinking. She delights in her child, and would do absolutely anything to protect her, giving her own life in a heartbeat. That is a hint of how great God’s love for us is; yet, sadly the response by humanity has often been to reject God’s call to love one another as He has loved us.
The good news is that God will never abandon us. To even begin to grasp the depth of God’s undying and unconditional love for us is beyond our human limitations, or so I assume, yet, the fact that we have even an inkling of it, and that we desire to more fully enter into His kingdom, is an amazing gift of Grace. Our desire for God is the same as His desire for us: we are not separate from our Creator, and to allow ourselves to be embraced by God’s infinite and all-powerful love is our first duty as Christians; everything else extends from there. I invite you to ask yourself the same question that I am asking of myself, “What would it mean for me to fully embrace God’s love? What would it mean for me to fully accept God’s love in this moment?” We must know ourselves to be the irreplaceable children of God, more loved than we could ever possibly imagine. Amen
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