We have to realize that our Lord is not alone in gazing on us.
The adversary, the evil one, does likewise. It is a primary effort of the devil to accuse us of a perpetual unworthiness before God, of unsuitability for any friendship with God. For many people, great or small in their sins, this accusation is perhaps received at face value. The evidence of their sins is indisputable, and the conclusion is not argued. The sense of unworthiness is embraced as a truth without qualification. What follows for a soul is often some sense of remoteness from God, a lack of confidence, an unwillingness to draw closer because the door seems closed.
Our Lord's effort in our regard is to conquer this lie. The devil in his legalistic mentality wants sins, small and great, to be treated by God as impediments to the heart of Christ. Our Lord refuses to accept this demand. He wants us to ignore the devil's accusation and approach him precisely as sinful and humbled and repentant, with a confidence that our sins do not chase him away in disgust. Bringing our sins to him as a gift, in that case, does not mean that our sins in themselves are a gift pleasing to him.
That would suggest we should commit greater sins and so give a bigger gift. It means allowing our Lord to do what he wants to do, namely, to conquer the devil's lie to souls. Jesus wants to love souls with a love that overwhelms sinfulness with goodness. But to realize this truth, we cannot withdraw from his gaze of love even as we are aware of failure. We are simply doing then what pleases him immensely. He wants to love intensely the soul unafraid to stand naked and in need at the foot of the cross. All the more is this true when a soul is holy and is bringing the steady and depressing small failings of a life and yet is confident of a great love poured out from the Passion of Christ upon the soul.
Fr. Donald Haggerty. "Why the Lord Yearns." Conversion: Spiritual Insights into an Essential Encounter with God (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2017).
Reprinted with permission from Ignatius Press.
Fr. Donald Haggerty, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is currently serving at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. He has been a Professor of Moral Theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York and Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland and has a long association as a spiritual director for Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. He is the author of Conversion: Spiritual Insights into an Essential Encounter with God, as well as Contemplative Provocations and The Contemplative Hunger.Copyright © 2017 Ignatius Press
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