His Everlasting Love
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life." (John 3:16) To love God—to reciprocate His everlasting love for us, we must love our brothers as we do ourselves.
The love God has for us is a Fatherly love, a filial or affectionate love, the type of love between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, etc. When I grew up in Nijmegen (the Netherlands), in my pre-teen years, we, that is Mom, Dad, a friend, and I, used to walk every Sunday after Holy Mass, weather permitting, through the woods on the way to Berg en Dal (tr. Hill and Dale) and there we gathered at a restaurant to have lunch. These walks were family walks and since there was great unity and love in my family, they were moments of great intimacy for me. We were really joyful and happy. It was there, on these walks, that I learned a lot about God's love for us. "With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you." (Jer. 31:3)
Jesus wishes that we have an intimate relationship with Him, with His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to strive to be a Saint. He desires pure love. Not the love some adults have to which there are conditions attached, but rather, the love of children who love purely without conditions and codicils.
God loved the world so much that He died on the Cross for us, so that we may have Life. Life eternal! We are the redeemed. Our bonds have been broken. We are no longer slaves to sin, but we have chosen Jesus because we're assured of His love and we, in turn, love Him.
Sin is an insult to Jesus because it tells Him that we do not fully love Him. We shuffle the guilt under the mat, so to speak, by thinking or saying, "God is so good, he doesn't mind," or, "God and I understand one another." That's very dangerous thinking my friends. The road to Hell is paved with those who are misled by these false thoughts and principles.
We cannot allow even the smallest offense to happen. We are human.... and we suffer under or from the sin of Adam and Eve, original sin. Still, we can overcome sin, with His help. So, open these fetters of iron that hold us prisoner. Tell Satan to take a leap off the nearest cliff, back into the abyss whence he came. He is counting on our weaknesses so don't give him any. Also, there's a wise saying: "Idleness is the devil's playground." Keep your mind occupied with Jesus and after a while temptation fades into the background.
If, somehow, your resolve proves not enough, here is a spiritual warfare prayer that is very effective: "In the Name of Jesus I bind Satan and all the evil forces, all powers and principalities. I bind this building, the walls, ceilings, floors and all that may admit evil around me. I bind all that is evil. It is done." Seal yourself in the Blood of the Lamb! Then Satan leaves because there is nothing more to gain. So don't invite him back. And, by the way, those who do not believe in the existence of Satan, are in grave danger. He does exist so beware of him; beware of his trickery and deceit. Keep Jesus in your heart and on your lips—He will help you fight evil and set you free.
All this is part of man's suffering. Suffering does not come from God. It comes from man (Ultimately because of Original sin.) Suffering is all around us, in our schools, in our factories. Misdeeds perpetrated by erring clergy is also suffering. September 11th was and continues to be suffering for many who have lost relatives, friends and dear ones. Many, maybe most of us these days, suffer illness, social injustice, poverty, homelessness; our lives are a valley of tears.
When we learn how to pray, when we begin or maintain that interior life with Jesus, returning to Him our love by not sinning, by seeking the road to perfection, then we will also learn how to cope with suffering. We'll find a way to channel the merit gained by suffering, perhaps in reparation for our sins and those of the whole world. Your suffering will continue but it will now work for you and for the glory of God and for our brothers and sisters. On days when we feel worse than usual, it could be that God has a special mission for us. This is when your suffering is used to help someone who is really hurting at that moment. It is not necessary for us to know who it is!
Not everyone has the opportunity to give his life for his neighbor. By offering your suffering for someone else to bring this person closer to Jesus, to acknowledge and accept His everlasting love, you're gaining great merit. Perhaps God allows you to suffer because He had a grave sinner in mind—who needed much help. May the Lord bless you and Keep you well.
Fred Schaeffer, OFS, 2000 rev. 2018
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Officers as of 1/10/2016
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS