Editor’s Note: This is the final article of a series of articles on the theme: “Being Lifted Up In Christ As Catholic Men.”
What Does God’s Love Feel Like? Imagine a married couple sitting together on the front porch of their home. They are together, but hardly a word passes between them. They are simply enjoying being together; that’s all it takes to make them happy. Perhaps they are holding hands, perhaps not. The look in their eyes is one of peace, contentment, and satisfaction. They know each other’s weaknesses, flaws, and annoying habits, but none of that matters at this moment. Their love covers all of them (1 Peter 4:8). Sometimes a full hour can pass while they sit together, but the couple doesn’t care. They have lost track of time.
This is the way Jesus wants to be with us. Sometimes we like to use words—prayers, petitions, or statements of love and gratitude—and that can be very good. Sometimes Jesus wants to lift us out of some turmoil that we are in—as he did when he lifted Peter from the stormy sea (Matthew 14:31) or when he stopped a funeral procession and raised up a widow’s only son (Luke 7:11-17).
But there are also times when Jesus simply wants to pour his love upon us, and there are times when we simply need to receive that love. Perhaps Jesus wants us to be like Martha’s sister, Mary, who sat at his feet and listened to his words (Luke 10:38-42). Perhaps he is inviting us to come to him as little children, so that he can take us into his arms and bless us (Mark 10:14-16). Or maybe he wants us to be like John, confident enough in Jesus’ love to lay our head on his breast (John 13:23).
Sometimes we forget that Jesus already knows what is on our hearts: our sufferings, our joys, and the pressures of life. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus knows what is happening in our lives. He knows how we feel about him far more than that couple sitting on the porch know how they feel about each other. He knows how much we love him. More often than not, the problem is that our minds are focused on too many things. Distractions—like the demands of work or housekeeping—would mar the peace that the married couple experience as they sit together. But they realize this, and they have learned how to put these distractions aside.
Likewise, distractions in prayer can keep us from getting to the point where we are enjoying the presence of Jesus. So we need to learn how to quiet ourselves and come to Jesus just as we are.
It Doesn’t Take That Much Effort. It’s not all that hard to see how much couples who are in love want to be with each other. The feelings of unity, affection, and gratitude are overflowing, and it’s easy for them to engage each other. Jesus wants to make it easy for us to come to him as well. He is always reaching out to us. He promised that he would give us a heart that understands that he is the Lord and that his love endures forever (Jeremiah 24:7). He wants to call each of us, and all of us as a whole, “my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty” (13:11).
As we let these kinds of words into our hearts and minds, they replace the distractions of life that cloud our vision of the Lord. And something special begins to happen inside of our hearts as a result. Our hearts and minds are lifted up, and we find ourselves in the presence of God.
Why not stop for a moment right now and use the words from the psalms to see if you can experience a moment of peace and love with Jesus? Begin by calming your mind, then just pray these words—or something similar—over and over again. See your heart and mind yearning for Jesus: “‘Come,’ says my heart, ‘seek God’s face’; your face, Lord, do I seek!” (Psalm 27:8). Tell Jesus, “With all my heart I seek you. My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord” (119:10; 84:3). “You have given my heart more joy than they have when grain and wine abound” (4:8). “My heart is set on fulfilling your laws. To do your will is my delight” (119:112; 40:9).
After just a few minutes, you just might find yourself being lifted up. You just might experience an overwhelming sense of peace and joy, of confidence and hope. All it takes is a few minutes. It doesn’t take that much effort at all. Why? Because whenever we lift up our hearts to the Lord, he readily comes and takes us to his side.
Fix Your Eyes on Jesus. Brothers, God is not far from us. He is very near, and he wants to draw us to himself. He wants to lift us up to be with him. He wants to shower us with his love—a love that we can feel, a love that gives us peace, a love that transforms. If we lift up our eyes to Jesus, we will see him.
So what do you think? Can you let the Holy Spirit teach you inwardly what the church teaches outwardly? Can you let the Spirit teach you about God’s highest intentions for your life—to lift you up so that you can be drawn closer to Jesus?
Let us pray together:“Come, Holy Spirit, and open the eyes of my heart. Lift me up to heaven so that I can see the hope to which I have been called. Show me my glorious inheritance in Christ. Holy Spirit, transform me and fill me with God’s great power!” (Ephesians 1:17-19).
(Joe Difato is the publisher of “The Word Among Us” devotional magazine. To contact him, go to his website at www.joedifato.com. Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing us to use his articles from their August issue. Used with permission.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. The article uses the love between a married couple as a way of illustrating the Lord’s great love for us. In what way is this a good analogy? In what ways does it fall short?
2. How would you describe the ways you have experienced Jesus love for you?
3. The article offers an approach to coming into the Lord’s presence. Take a few minutes to try this approach, using the following steps described in the article:
o Calm your mind
o Pray these words—or something similar—over and over again, while seeing your heart and mind yearning for Jesus: “‘Come,’ says my heart, ‘seek God’s face’; your face, Lord, do I seek!” (Psalm 27:8).
o Tell Jesus, “With all my heart I seek you. My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord” (Psalm 119:10; 84:3). “You have given my heart more joy than they have when grain and wine abound” (4:8). “My heart is set on fulfilling your laws. To do your will is my delight” (119:112; 40:9).
4. What happened after trying the above steps?
5. The article goes on to say the following: “Brothers, God is not far from us. He is very near, and he wants to draw us to himself. He wants to lift us up to be with him. He wants to shower us with his love—a love that we can feel, a love that gives us peace, a love that transforms. If we lift up our eyes to Jesus, we will see him.” What steps can you take to make these words more of a reality in your life?
If you are in a men’s group, end your meeting by praying for one another for a new openness to “being lifted up in Christ.” Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.
(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, a Trustee of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.catholicmensresources.org/), and currently the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry of The Word Among Us to the Military and Prisoners. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com.)