Editor’s note: This is the eleventh post in our newest series, reflecting on the Hillbilly Thomists’ recent, self-titled album. The series will run each Tuesday and Thursday throughout the Easter season. Read the whole series here. This post concerns the song “What Wondrous Love Is This,” which you can listen to here.
In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins (1 Jn 4:10).
The person who knows not love knows not how to love.
So many people feel unloved in the world today: the mob clamoring for rights while calling a bigot anyone who does not jump at its whims; the executive shouting at those under his authority; the teenager seeking pleasure in the shameful secret of the innermost room, lit by only the flesh-colored screen; the girl of pills or chains or bloodied arms. They all thirst for love, but find themselves trapped in the smallness of doubts, anxieties, sins, and insecurities.
Many have strayed so far from love that they cannot even recognize love. Some of us get to the point that, even if I think it might exist for someone, I cannot believe it could exist for me. We act without love, hating ourselves for our acts of hate, yet unable to escape: escape would require letting someone see me as I am. Every interaction remains bound by fear that any sign of love might be an empty facade masking deeper loathing. For how could they look on me with love, me, the unkind, ungrateful? And would it have been worth it, after all?
We the loveless need proof beyond all doubt that we are lovely, that we are loveable. Only then can we be freed to love and to find peace. Only the Lord can reveal this love to us, for it was He who created it in us; we love because He first loved us.
There are three that testify to this love. The Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord.
God gave us our very life, and called it very good. He created us not for hatred and death, but for life in the splendor of love.
Yet, we sin and turn from the joy of His love, marring the beauty of His creation in us. We were bound to the hated freedom of our sinful choices, thinking that being able to choose among earthly things would make us free.
Then He came, offering life in the splendor of His truth. Who could believe what we have seen? Only fools—fisherman, carpenter, maiden, and whore—could embrace the glory of His good news, far above anything we had settled for. But, union with God? Surely not I, Lord. I could not be destined for such greatness. Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.
But God does not fear our sin. He conquers. This is the greatest sign of His love: His blood upon the Cross. What we have seen and testify concerns the Word who is life and love. See, upon the Cross, the love the Father has lavished upon us.
The Cross is enduring proof of the love of God for us. But lest we think that love might be for another, God gives the Spirit into our hearts, crying out Abba, Father, teaching us internally that love came to us, dwells in us, and sets us free.
And thus we come to know and to believe in the love God has for us, and this perfect love casts out all fear.
Firmly planted in God’s love, we can be free from freedom to choose only what will never satisfy. For Christ in His sacraments gave us a means to higher freedom, healing our wounds and raising us up. Through undeniable, efficacious signs, with His love found there as our foundation, we need not fear the hatred of the world. For our God has loved us into being, loved us enough to die for us when we were still in our sin, and even loved us enough to welcome us through the sacraments of the Church into His very life. He has gone to prepare a place for us where that freedom to love knows no bounds. In the meantime, He sends us to bring the joy of this freedom to all persons.
In knowing God, who is Love, we learn how to love, and find that Joy which can only ever be a fruit of love.
The Bridegroom has drawn us! Come, let us run!
The Spirit and the Bride say, “come.” And let those who hear them say, “come” (Rev 22:17).
Photo by Lesly Juarez