One of my favourite authors is an American called Raymond Carver, who died at the tragically early age of 50, in 1988. He is most famous for his collections of short stories and his books of poetry. Just a few hours before his death from cancer he asked his wife to provide him with a pencil and paper, and he then wrote his very last poem which is called “Late Fragment”. I find his words both inspiring and moving.
And did you get what
You wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
Beloved on the earth.
In these very simple words the poet expresses what I believe is a universal human truth, that more important to our well being than material success in worldly terms, is the desire to know that we are beloved during our life on earth. Of course, many of us are very blessed in coming to know how much we are loved and treasured through married and family life, and through the gift of friendship.
The even deeper wonder of our Catholic faith is that we are being invited to realise more and more deeply that we are personally beloved by God, and in the Person of Jesus. The Gospel of St. John, in particular, makes this truth a basic theme of all his writings. In today’s Gospel reading, for example, we are told that as the Father loves Jesus , so too Jesus loves us. We are invited to remain in His love so that our human joy may be complete. Jesus then goes on to make the remarkable statement that we are His Friends and that He has chosen us to bear the fruits of His love in our daily lives.
A growing awareness of this truth would bring about a remarkable transformation in our own personal lives and in the life of the parish as a whole. Many of us fall into the trap of allowing our relationship with God to be dominated by fear and guilt, which is such an impoverished way of understanding the kind of relationship Jesus desires with us. This is something that St. Alphonsus, the founder of the Redemptorists often spoke of too. He said that a conversion to God which is made out of fear of guilt would not last. A living and lasting relationship with God is only possible when we come to realise how deeply we are all beloved.
Let us pray that each of us within the parish of Holy Redeemer will allow ourselves to be spiritually and humanly transformed by the astonishing gift that we are being offered each day: to call ourselves beloved, to feel ourselves beloved on the earth
Fr Gerard, CSsR