“Where there is love, obstacles disappear, thorns are turned into roses, crosses into pearls.” Before the Altar, Concepcion Cabrera De Armida
In our life, God gives each of us a tool – His gift of love. Love is not just a feeling, it is an action. Love is the basis for trusting in Jesus and accepting God’s will. Trust in Jesus is absent without love. Concepcion Cabrera De Armida explains it perfectly in her meditations Before the Altar,“ where there is love, obstacles disappear thorns are turned into roses, crosses into pearls”. Filling our soul with Jesus’ love allows us to trust Him, to detach ourselves from the things of this world and rely on the will of God. This love is an infinite love that pours out and satisfies all desires of the heart. With that satisfaction comes a renouncement of self and reliance on God. Concepcion Cabrera De Armida also states, “where there is love, the heart is filled with the most sublime aspirations, with irrepressible zeal and fiery ardor, with a thirst for purity, a hunger for martyrdom, endless crosses and an unlimited confidence in God.”
What does it mean to fill your soul, your heart with Jesus? Can Jesus occupy your heart if it is filled with self-love, pride, egotism? One must renounce oneself, surrender to God, void the heart and soul so that only Jesus can occupy it. Allow Him to come into your heart and occupy it completely, to reign as King in your heart. You will be consumed with a love that is larger than anything and God will reveal more to you. He will give you more trials with more victories. He will show you areas in your life where you have relied on yourself versus Him.
This is where I found myself many years ago, embracing this love. As I embraced it and consumed it, releasing myself, God revealed much more to me in my life. He revealed areas that I knew I had to change. The struggles came and the strength overpowered them. There were times that I would reflect on a situation and wonder how I was able to react the way I did, how I was able to overcome it. In many cases, it wasn’t me. It wasn’t the way I would have normally reacted. It was larger, it was an act of a consuming love, a greater confidence in God. It was Jesus reigning in my heart as King, His heart beating in unison with mine. He was the center of it all.
Love is the foundation of it all. It allows you to trust in God and let Him provide the strength to lift the burdens of your crosses you bear in your life.
How does love provide this foundation to trusting God and carrying you through your struggles? Concepcion Cabrera de Armida speaks of three dimensions of love in her meditation of charity in What Jesus is Like. She states that we must first love Jesus with all of our heart and soul. Most of us have this love for Jesus. Where we begin to struggle is to allow Jesus to love us, the second dimension of love. Once you have established a love for Jesus, then you can open your heart by your own will to allow Him to love you. After you have allowed Jesus to come into your heart and love you, then you are giving up your own will to that of the Father. Jesus wants you to look at Him, gaze upon Him and see this reflection of love He has for you, embrace it and exhibit it. By soaking in His gaze and reflecting His love, you must completely empty yourself and then you will see the Father through Him and will your life over to Him. By loving Him and allowing Him to love you, you will surrender to His desires. This leads into the third dimension of love, to surrender the soul to only pleasing God. By surrendering the soul to think only of pleasing God, you will resemble Jesus. Jesus came into the world to seek your love and to surrender His love to you. By resembling this dimension of love, your eyes and heart will be fixed on God and you will “live in God”.
What is it like to resemble this dimension of love, the goodness of Jesus? This was another question that pondered my thoughts in the struggles in my life. How can I resemble Christ – love as He did? He graciously, lovingly, selflessly carried His cross for mankind. With every thorn in my life, I weep, I complain, I ask God to take it away. Is that the solution? Does God want me to resemble Jesus in these moments? Does He want me to rely on Him, embrace His love and allow it to overflow during my darkest hours? How can we resemble Jesus’ goodness to forgive, to love unending, and to be compassionate to suffering? It is an act of self-sacrifice.
What does this self-sacrifice look like? It is emulating Jesus’ compassion, His love and forgiveness to bear the crosses you are given just as He did. It’s accepting these crosses in your life and asking for strength to bear them. In What Jesus Is Like?, Concepcion Cabrera de Armida mentions an analogy of the striking of a harp and picking of the petals of a flower to a good soul. She states that the good soul is like a harp and a flower. “When it is wounded by criticism and torn apart by ingratitude, it can only respond with harmony and the perfume of goodness.” This is what Jesus’ soul is like. He radiates with self-sacrifice and kindness even though He was/is persecuted by mankind. Through all the trials you experience, you are called to do the same. You must seek kindness, compassion and love in each moment versus anger and pride. You must humble yourself, holding true to God, seeking His guidance and strength in each moment of persecution. Through these acts of love, kindness and humility, He will shower you with His love and He will carry you through any circumstance, big and small.