In the fundamental meditation about the goal; that is, of choosing love:
the soul must love; it has need of living. The soul must divert the
stream of its love, but not into the mud or into a vacuum, but into God. How I rejoice when I reflect on this, for I feel clearly that He Himself is in my heart.
Just Jesus alone! I love creatures insofar as they help me to become united with God. I love all people because I see the image of God in them.
(Diary of Divine Mercy)
How is it possible to see the image of God in all people? Those I love or people who are kind to me can bring about the experience of seeing God in them easily. Yet I am called to see deeper and to love more broadly than that. For even my loved ones, if they treat me in an unjust manner, or abuse me in some way, or betray me; to find the image of God is them would be much more difficult. For when I love, it is based on some need. Love of my family and friends, for instance, is not completely unconditional but can turn. Yet again, Jesus calls me to love all, even my enemies.
Agape is pure love that is shown us through the revelation of Jesus Christ. I often think and pray over the story of the Prodigal Son. Even though that parable can be looked at from more than one perspective, for it is all about the Father, his relationship with both of his sons, and how he showed his love for them.
He allowed the younger son to leave, to offend him greatly by asking for his inheritance. In doing so, he in effect, told his father that he wished him dead since he was in the way of living the kind of life he wanted…..yet out of love the father let him go, for love has to be freely given or it is not really love, but something based more on fear and underlying resentment.
The father waited every day for his son to return. When the son did return, for other than truly being sorry (I believe), but wanted food and a place to stay. I do not think he in any way expected his father to react the way he did. Yet even before the son arrived the father ran to him and embraced him, clothed him in his finest robes and killed the fatted calf. All done out of love and not from anything the callow, self-centered, son did.
I would imagine he was not just surprised, but overwhelmed. Yet in the story there is no definite ending, you could say that we are left hanging. Did the son leave again, betray his father’s love? Did he leave and return many times, until a time came when the son would make a definitive choice to return the father's love or not? I do believe that when Jesus tells us to forgive 70 X 7 times a day, he is in reality showing us the infinite mercy and willingness to forgive of the father.
Yet I can struggle to forgive, even though I have been embraced by the love of God the Father many times. When I say the Our Father, I seek to bring into my heart and consciousness awareness all in my life that I need to forgive, especially those who I have forgotten, yet their wounds still affect me. I seek to consciously to forgive everyone whom I have hurt, as well as to forgive all who have hurt, betrayed, or abused me in any way. Perhaps I will have to say the Our Father many more times before complete healing comes about. The very desire to pray this way is a grace, for the chains that are worn that come from not forgiving can truly be heavy and weary the soul to death. Yet the Father, our loving God is always waiting and when we stumble towards him, even if our reasons are not based totally on love, yet he runs towards us because God the Father is free to love, I still struggle with this reality, because such freedom has yet to be given me…..I am still on the way to fully put on Jesus Christ.