Advent: Love Like God: God’s Act of Love
The season of Advent is a season of understanding God’s love for us. It reminds us of God’s enduring presence in our lives through the centuries of our salvation history. We remember the long line of people God loved into existence that birthed new understandings of God’s promises. We celebrate all the ways ordinary people who were God’s exquisite creations returned the love they received from God back to God by their “yes”. Advent is a season of remembering a great act of love, God becoming human. Our next series on the Into the Deep blog is called, Advent; Love Like God.
I feel like every Advent I point us back to St. Ignatius’ meditation on the Incarnation to help us understand what this act of love meant. Even though it is over a decade since I made the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, I return to this meditation on the Incarnation time and time again because of the impact it had on me the first time I prayed it, and the way it continues to teach me about God’s love.
God loves us by seeing us and hearing us.
Ignatius’ meditation on the Incarnation begins with inviting us to imagine what the Trinity saw as they looked down upon the world the moment before the Incarnation happened. We are invited to notice what they see and also what they hear. An act of intimacy and love in any relationship is being seen and heard. God tenderly saw and heard God’s people. God heard the deep desires of their hearts, their longings, their hopes, their fears, their pain, and their joys. This great act of love of being seen and heard by God remains for each of us today. How does it feel to know God loves you through seeing you and hearing you?
God loves us by working the mystery of salvation.
Ignatius’ meditation continues inviting us to imagine the Trinity desiring to bring about our salvation. Think about the care and concern God had for us as God saw and heard us. I can only get a glimpse of what this might feel like as a mom listening to my three beloved children. My heart fills with love as I see and hear them, and my heart breaks when they are hurting. The love I have for them moves me to want to act to relieve their suffering. Can you imagine the love God had for us to be moved to help us? This act of love is still here for us today.
God loves us by choosing to become human.
We desire to be near to those we love. We seek to spend time and get to know the people we care about and love. God sought to be near to us and became human. God chose to dwell amongst the human race to fully know and be present to God’s people. While the human form of God no longer remains on earth, God continues to dwell with us in a multitude of ways: in our inner chapels, in the Sacraments, in each other, in nature, and on and on. Jesus remains our way, our truth, and our life (Jn 14:6). What an act of love to continue to seek to dwell with us and be near to us! How might we create space and time to dwell with God this Advent?
God loves us by sending the angel to Mary.
As Ignatius invites us to see the Trinity looking down on the world, he invites us to ponder that the Trinity decided it is time to work the “mystery of salvation.”. Their great act of love begins by sending the Angel Gabriel to Mary. God chose to work with a young woman in the most unexpected circumstances to come and dwell with the human race. Christ was born through an ordinary person. What does this act of love say to us today? God seeks to be born in us and through us. God invites us to be co-creators and co-laborers in the continued story of love, our salvation history.
God loves us by fulfilling the long-awaited promise of the Messiah.
Trust is key in any relationship. God fulfilling the promise of the long-awaited Messiah after centuries of people waiting helps establish trust in God. God’s love, faith, and hope endured in people for thousands of years. Can you imagine the ways God nurtured and tended to people in moments of doubt or fear or tiredness? Can you ponder the ways God helped people to keep their faith or hope? Millions of tiny concrete acts of love from God kept the hope of the promised Messiah alive. When I think of this, I remember how much God can be trusted. How are you experiencing God working to keep the promises of God alive in you today?
The Incarnation is a great act of love. Advent is a season of remembering God’s acts of love that manifested in the lives of ordinary people, like you and me. May our Advent journey of remembering this part of our salvation history deepen our understanding of God’s love for each one of us.
Becky Eldrege is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.