There is a picture of Jesus I have that I really love. As I was looking at it one day, I wondered – what is it in His expression that helps me to pray? As I looked more closely, I saw that there was great longing in His eyes. What does Jesus long for? I believe it is to love us and to be loved in return. As Jesus’ Heart is more loving and thus more sensitive than ours, He suffers greatly when His love is met with rejection or indifference – especially in the Blessed Sacrament; the Sacrament of His love, where He is often left alone.
It is when we begin seeing more of Jesus’ love for us that we begin to really love Him. His thirst to have all of our hearts rather than just a part, satisfies our desire to love as well. Each soul is called to an intimacy with Jesus that is interior, strong, and consuming. How beautiful life becomes when we fall in love with Our Lord. I believe He longs for this too, but how?
How do we turn our faith into such a close relationship? G.K. Chesterton once said something that may sound surprising: “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair”. If this is what Our Lord wants, how do we get there? I struggled with this question myself. I worried if I was being too bold with Jesus. I wondered – does He even want me to be that close? I am not a saint, far from it.
At first, our faith is something that is more theoretical. I think as we begin to pray and discover God more, we begin to know God by loving Him. Knowledge of Him becomes something deeper and it inflames the soul with love.
When we fear a close relationship with Jesus, perhaps sometimes it’s a fear of presumption, but I think it can often be a lack of trust. At the same time, the soul intensely wants to be loved by Jesus.
While I was wondering if Jesus would love me as much as I longed for, He loved me beyond all understanding. I forgot that Jesus wants to be one with each soul. He is jealous for our hearts and doesn’t want just partial intimacy with Him. Have we understood His Heart?
Have we understood how even little things we do for Him touch Him deeply? How attentive He is to our every thought, every heartbeat! If we only understand His love more, that would transform our relationship into something so beautiful. Each soul is unrepeatable. There will literally never be another like you, and you can give Jesus what no one else can. Your place in His Heart cannot be substituted by another. Let this bring you to total trust and confidence. Jesus already wants to love us more than we want to be loved, – we just need to let Him.
There is a beautiful poem by the Spanish Saint, St. John of the Cross. It is called the Spiritual Canticle and it is a loving dialogue between Christ and the soul as between a Bridegroom and bride. St. John also wrote a book explaining the meaning of his highly mystical poem. Each verse has some sort of hidden and very spiritual meaning. There are some verses in the poem that I believe show the level of closeness Jesus wants with souls:
“In the inner wine cellar / I drank of my Beloved, / and, when I went abroad through all this valley, / I no longer knew anything, / and lost the herd that I was following”.
St John describes this as the goal of spiritual growth, in which the inner wine cellar is the “most intimate degree of love” where Jesus infuses His own love into our souls. The soul forgets everything else, because Jesus becomes everything to it. If this is indeed the goal of holiness, then Jesus must very much want us to discover more of His love.
How do we even begin? Though I’m still learning, there are some ideas that I found helpful. I’m sure there are more.
- LET Him love you. Surrender any fear or distrust! Jesus wants your heart.
- Spent time with Him. Imagine an engaged couple: do they not rejoice to speak together?
- LET Him act. This can be hard. If while speaking to Jesus you find yourself recollected in His presence, just love Him back, open your soul and let Him do what He wishes. Be generous in responding to Him. We can never out-do Him in generosity! What do we get in return for our little efforts? His own Heart, the Heart of God.
One day as I was standing at a bus stop waiting to get home after work, I was struck by how ordinary I am and how extraordinary it is to know Jesus. As women we’re pressured to compare ourselves with others. Maybe by the standards of the world around us we all fall short. I looked at myself as another face in the crowd. Nothing extraordinary. But I realized that I’m happy, because Jesus is in my life. He can fill everything we need with Himself, and He can be who we need Him to be.
For Jesus, we are not a crowd. His gaze centers on each person. He sees YOU – as no one else sees you -and desires your heart. This relationship is not a theory, neither is it a shallow romantic notion. It is love shown through the Cross, stronger than death; a divine love that will not be content with anything but total union with the beloved.
(This article is also posted on the Made4More blog)