I fail. I fail meeting my own expectations, hopes and dreams. It does not mean there is a grand conspiracy against me, that God is judging or punishing me or that the universe is against me. We all fail. Everything great and beautiful in life, everything we cherish, everything we live for at some point fails. That is just how things are. Yet, in today’s scripture reading St. Paul boldly proclaims that “love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8). How come? It does not?
How many great relationships, marriages and friendships have you witnessed and seen fail? How many times did you embrace with love and enthusiasm a new chapter and opportunity in life and see it disintegrate and fall apart in front of your eyes? Did we all get it wrong? Does St. Paul talk about something much larger, a force that transcends the boundaries and limitations of the world we live in?
Yes, he does. St. Paul talks about divine love. God’s love towards you and me is not defined and impacted by our failures and success. Unlike any other form of love we have ever experienced and felt, God’s love towards us is unconditional. There are no footnotes with preconditions, no smallprint expiration dates. There is nothing we can ever say or do that can change how God loves us.
When everything fails, when everyone turns away, God’s love sustains us, helps us get back on our feet, when we are unable to walk it carries us to safety and attends to our wounds.
There is a story about a man who sees a dream. In his dream he walks on a shore and gets to meet Jesus. Scenes and events from his life flash in front of his eyes and for every scene he notices two sets of footprints in the sand – one belonging to him and one to Jesus, who was always with him throughout his life. But then the man realizes that some of the scenes from the darkest moments of his life had only one set of footprints in the sand. He was heartbroken and disappointed, he turned to Jesus and asked him: “Lord, you told me that once I decided to follow you, you would always be with me and walk with me. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why you would leave me when I needed you the most?” Jesus whispered to him: “My precious child, I will never leave you alone during trials and hardship. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was when I was carrying you.”
This is precisely how God works and functions in our lives. He is always present, always cares and sometimes also carries us, but always in all things loves us unconditionally.
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