by Bishop Joseph C. McKinney
God is love in the words of John. (See 1 John 4:8, 16) God is the great I-am-with-you in the words of Jesus. God's love embraces the Abba love that welcomes the prodigal son and insists on celebration. God's love is the saving love of Jesus who reveals himself as friend and brother. God's love is the uncreated love of the Holy Spirit who lives in us so we can participate in creating the new of the New Covenant. When we live in the love of God, we are in the love zone--the Creating Love who brings forth everything out of nothing. When we are in God's love zone, we are in our highest form of being alive. Jesus reveals that God's love is always available when we choose to accept it. There is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. (See Isaiah 54:7-10)
This love of God has several features that deserve our reflections. The first is that it is pure gift. No one can earn it. God is a giver not a grabber. So when we live in his love we become givers. No selfishness allowed. The more we are gift to God and others, the more God lives in us. When we can honestly say, "What can I do for you?" God is alive in us. The second is that God's love is unconditional. God loves us the way we are, with all our weaknesses and sinfulness. There was a moment when God said this one is just the way I want him, and we came into being. An infinite number of other possibilities vanished as he gave us his finishing touch and brought us into being. We need to appropriate and live the awesome wonder of the God who is delighted to give us life and finds us worthy of sharing in his life. There are no strings attached. God loves us the way we are–wrinkles and all.
God's love is also enduring. It never wears out. It never rejects. We can reject Him but He will never reject us. It is so enduring that it is eternal. Not even death can destroy it. We are finite and God is infinite. He shares infinity with us because he loves us. This is my beloved son (daughter) are the words that ring true every day; every moment of our existence and that is forever, and ever, and ever.
God is rich in mercy. Mercy is the special mark of divine love and permeates God's love whenever it is experienced. His love is never vindictive but it is forgiving. God never seeks revenge. His heart's desire is to welcome us to heaven where Jesus prepares a place for us. Hell only exists for those who reject his love. This is why repentance brings us into God's love. We turn away from what separates us from God so that we can experience his merciful love.
God's love is filial. That is the word most consistently used in the Catechism to describe His love. Our love is filial when our response is not childish but childlike. I like to give as a penance a series of little boy (girl) penance's, "Our Fathers". Put all adult sophistication aside and be a five year old on the lap of your Father. See the amusement in his eyes and face when we chose to run to him with open arms. He longs to sit us in his lap and ask, "How are things with you, my child?"
God's love is transforming. The primary activity of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus present. That is God's love poured into our hearts. We are moving from stage to stage to grow into his likeness. Better is the prayer, "May Jesus be great in you." Most people will grow in the love of Jesus as they experience his love.
"What would Jesus do?" is the answer to the question when people ask, "What does W.W.J.D. mean?" It also means Walk With Jesus Daily because living in his love transforms us that we "may decrease and He may increase."
There will not be any body pampering in heaven. What soothes the body here such as delicious food, or athletic endeavors, or sexual activity, or pleasures from such places as beauty parlors is not where it's at. There our hearts are enlivened by God's love and that is what brings out the beauty of our bodies. Body beauty deteriorates with age; not so with God's love in our hearts. Our destiny is to share in bright truth and glow with the fire of His love. It starts here on earth where Jesus shows us how to live in God's love. (See 1 John 4:15 & 1 John 5:3)
Here are two blessing prayers that I've heard: "May you live forever!" and "Jesus is great in you!" That's what the love zone is about.
Bishop Joseph C. McKinney, Diocese of Grand Rapids, is the former Chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
Article Reprinted: SFSpirit – September 1998 edition of the San Francisco Charismatics