Do we really believe

AND ACCEPT that God loves us? Belief is one thing. Faith is another. Real faith means acceptance – full and wholehearted. I often think that THIS SUNDAY’S SECOND READING [ROMANS 8:35. 37 – 39] should be known word for word by every Christian. Therein Paul lists a fairly comprehensive list of human situations which are incapable of separating us from the love of Christ.” However, we should note that the love of God (is) in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I also think that not nearly enough sermons are preached, or catechism classes taught, about the

LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD. Not even sin is able to separate us from this love. If it did then there would be no such thing as forgiveness. Never forget the old adage that God loves the sinner not the sin. We need to remember that it is the PERSON who is forgiven. The Lord’s love and forgiveness change ME. There is nothing in all creation which can separate us from the love of God.” This is what we need to accept.

The words of that wonderful, essentially simple, hymn says it all:

My God loves me, his love will never end. This is confirmed by Saint Paul in the well-known verses from First Corinthians {13:13}: there are three things that last for ever: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of them all is love.” When will we ever learn? God’s love for us and OF us. God does not only have a love ‘for us’ but OF US … HE LOVES ME! God is in love with me. When will I ever learn … learn that the Lord opens his hand and satisfies the desire of every living creature. [see TODAY’S PSALM (145 or 144).

THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [ISAIAH 55: 1 – 3]

is a clear reminder of the fact that God-in-Christ’s love for us comes absolutely free of charge. It is not earned or even deserved. It is the most valuable gift any of us have ever received. The Lord wants, desires, our acceptance of this open-handed and permanent reality. It ends with the words: my steadfast, merciful love for David …. and this is to be heard as inclusive for all people. At the same time, remember that David himself went through stages of being an adulterous murderer, thief, and betrayer of his calling. Yet, God carried on loving him. TODAY’S PSALM [145 or 144] is magnificent in its description of this love: you open your hand, Lord, and you satisfy us. … and satisfy the desire of every living creature.”

However, Isaiah reminds us that we have to come” in order to understand and receive this openhandedness. The word come is mentioned four times in three verses. We need to bring nothing but ourselves, as we really are, in order to receive God’s love. Every one who thirsts, come to the waters, and he who has no money, come, buy and eat … come without money and without price.”

We must take heed of the last two words ….. without price.

WE HAVE TO COME WITHOUT PUTTING A PRICE ON OURSELVES. I am not doing God a favour by coming as I really am. {and here was David’s strong point – his total honesty with God, and his recognition that he was not as autonomous, special or significant as he sometimes thought he was.} The Isaiah extract says it all: incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live.”

THIS WEEK’S GOSPEL READING [MATTHEW 14: 13 – 21]

reminds us of an absolutely essential element of our coming to the Lord in order to receive his love ….. WE SHOULD NEVER COME ALONE. Our faith in, and acceptance of, God’s love is integrally bound to a loving relationship (even in trying circumstances) to our neighbour. If we try to come alone our appreciation of what is offered is severely limited. In so doing we are putting a price on ourselves.

We need to recall other words of Jesus as he proclaims that whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt back to you.”

{see Mt. 7:2, Mk. 4:24 & Lk. 6:38}

If we read our Gospel extract carefully, we will notice that Jesus had suffered a deep and personal loss in the death of John the Baptist. He was in mourning but this did not stop him reaching out to others. He did not put a price on his outreach, his time, or the tangible expression of his love, care and concern. He had compassion on them.”

In addition, hear clearly the personal challenge the Lord issued to his disciples who wanted to send them away.”

This challenge was simple and forthright – you give them something to eat.” Here he asks a question of them: ‘why must I do it all? …. I am not a magic wand ….

DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT YOURSELVES. AND – do it without putting a price on it.

If we are prepared and willing to give from the little we have, but bring this little to him for his blessing, we will work wonders – and then HIS love comes to us in great measure.