I’m still thinking about last week’s gospel about “The greatest Commandment,” that we should love God with all our hearts and our neighbors ourselves (Mark 12:28-34). For me there’s a difficult paradox here.
One the one hand I think a lot of us have trouble loving our neighbors as ourselves because we don’t really love ourselves. And yet at the same time the reason we can’t really love God is that we’re so caught up in ourselves. We’re so self-centered.
It’s a real problem.
But the other day I was rereading a book by Anthony DeMello, Seek God Everywhere, his book on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and he says something that really consoles me and gives me hope. Sometimes, he says, God asks us to do something that we’re just not ready to do. And that’s OK. We just have to say to God:
Sorry, Lord, you want that? Increase the love in my heart so that I may give it joyfully. For the time being I am saying no. I would like to give it, but make me love you more. Increase my love. Give me your love and your grace.
I like this very much. Our spiritual lives are not about what we can achieve ourselves but about what God can do in us if we let him. DeMello doesn’t even say that we should pray to be able to accomplish something difficult, just that we should pray to want to in the first place, and this is a good prayer, I think, and a real prayer, and in a sense the only prayer we can pray, because it’s at just that moment, as we’re praying for this love, that we let go. It’s at just this moment that we open ourselves up, just a little, and then everything else comes rushing in. Grace comes rushing in.