Commentary on the Gospel of

Tom Shanahan, S.J.-Creighton University's Athletic Department

Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Have you ever been moved by the sight of a mom or dad holding the hand of their toddler as they walk on the sidewalk or cross the street?  For whatever reason, that image grabs a part of me that readily recognizes the beauty of parental love in all its simplicity.  I seem to be led to recognize that scene as an image of God’s wonderful care for all of creation.  The parent easily represents God’s care and love.  At times like this I sometimes find myself seeped in the greatest of all realities: God’s love.

A similar story is found at the beginning of the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah in today’s liturgy.  There, God’s love is depicted even in situations that seem unlikely to call out God's care and love: “worm Jacob. . . maggot Israel. . .”  on the surface, pretty much the opposite of parental concerns!  And that makes the main point here in the Prophet's analysis even more striking. Seemingly nothing can stifle God’s penetrating love!  It’s not about my goodness or good qualities at all – it's about God’s over-riding love.

This over-riding love is spelled out in the second paragraph: “I, the Lord, will answer them (the afflicted) . . . will not forsake them. . .  will turn the desert into marshland. . .  dry ground into springs of water.”  God responds to Jacob and Israel (worm and maggot) with tender and compelling fondness.

God’s love/our response?  How might this look in today’s world?  There’re lots of us who recognize we are not perfectionists nor Type A personalities yet, in relationship with God we revert to a form of ego-centered perfectionism; we want to be so good and beyond reproach that we miss the most endearing part of ourselves.  Our neediness and vulnerability make us especially loved by God.   We are flawed, half-hearted, shame-filled, and, ultimately, sinful by nature; we are heirs of worm Jacob and maggot Israel Isaiah reminds us!  Where is God in this darkened scenario?  Seemingly unflustered – he simply loves us as we are, warts and all as the saying goes.

How might I respond to the insanely profound love God has for me?  I know myself and see the unlovable in me.  Yet God is blind to that and seeks to look deeper and find a core down deep in me that he sees and loves.  Also, he invites me to join him in order to experience God’s love/care simply and humbly as God’s gift to me.  I am good, not because I “do good things”, but simply because I am, and God invites me to view myself as God views me – with love and grace.

Benevolent God hear my shout to you.  Let me show my ongoing conversion, by imitating your relationship with me.  I am who I am because of YOU.  let that sink in and pervade my life as the source of any goodness that flows from me and, because of you.  Give me the humility to turn myself over to you and the simplicity to see and be grateful for your over-riding love.  You, a mother/father God grasping my hand in tenderness and care.


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