Story of Love

The Pope is up to it again.  I enjoy following Pope Francis in his travels, speeches and actions in our world.  He is such an inspiration to many---Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  Even though I am not a Roman Catholic, I like to think he is my Pope, too.  I hope all my Catholic friends are ok with me claiming Francis to be my Pope as well as their Pope. 
   
I was pulled into his recent pronouncement by reading the article in a Catholic periodical that I regularly read.  The headlines of the article proclaimed, “God dreams big, wants to transform the world, defeat evil, pope says.”  This article deals with a recent papal speech in Francis’ appearance in St. Peter’s Square.  This was another in his series of papal addresses dealing with hope.  In his speech the Pope is dealing with the account of Mary Magdalene at the tomb of the crucified Jesus.  Unexpectedly to her, she has an experience of the risen Lord---God’s Presence.  At one point the Pope said, "she discovers the most earth-shattering event in human history when she is finally called by name."  Francis goes on to develop this point.
   
A key part of his message is this encounter of Mary Magdalene is not just a historical event describing one lucky woman.  It is really a description of how God will deal with each and every one of us.  Francis continues, "How beautiful it is to think that the first appearance of the Risen One, according to the Gospels, happened in such a personal way.  That there is someone who knows us, who sees our suffering and disappointment," whose heart breaks "for us and who calls us by name." 
   
The Christian good news proclaims that God will deal with each of us in personal ways.  We are assured that there is One who knows us.  John’s gospel graphically puts this in terms of God calling us by name.  I am a named person.  I am not some “you.”  Names identifies and specifies.  It does not matter that there are, in fact, many people with my first name.  The fact is we each have a name.  We were named and, thereby, became persons who are “somebody” and who are “special.”  That is how God deals with us.
   
And then I came to the place in the article that stunned me.  The Pope said that every one of us "is a story of love that God has written on this earth."  Francis goes on to finish this thought when he notes that, "Each one of us is a story of God's love."  I was deeply moved to think that I am actually a “story of love” that God is writing on earth.  That gives my life a value and worthiness that I don’t feel every day of life.  Let me suggest that my life as a “story of love” is both already and fact, but also a hope.
   
My life as a “story of love” is already a fact.  I did not merit that.  It was given to me as a gift.  It is a matter of grace, not my merit.  I can be thankful, but I cannot be egotistical because of my own accomplishments.  My “story of love” is a testament to God’s mercy.  And it is not just my fact; it is yours, too.  You also are a “story of love.”  That’s a fact!
   
But it is a story.  It is not over.  And it does not mean the story is perfect.  Ultimately, it might become a perfect love story, but it is not yet that for me.  There are some chapters in my life as a “story of love” that are not good or worthy.  A story of love may have some chapters describing our lives as wrong, stupid or lost.  I have experienced all of those facets of a sad story of life.  I have been wrong, stupid and lost.  But the story is not over.
   
The good news according to the Pope is we are not the sole authors of our lives.  Our life as a “story of love” is not just my story.  It is a life that is being co-authored.  God is co-authoring my life just as much as I am.  I am confident many of us are under the illusion that we are the sole authors of our lives.  If that were true, our lives likely will not turn out to be “stories of love.”  I do not have the confidence I can pull off a “story of love” all by myself.  If I am graced, then I have a chance.  Then I have hope and a bright future of love.  With the mercy of God, I do have confidence the story will have a happy ending. 
   
It can be a comedy, not a tragedy.  I think that is the heart of the Resurrection story---it is finally a comedy.  Death does not get the last laugh.  And it is no doing of our own.  The “story of love” is not only the story of love, but it is a narrative of God’s grace.  In fact, I remember somewhere Gerald May talks about love being the flowering of grace.  That fits here very nicely.
   
God cares.  And God dares to continue to write love stories.  Those love stories will have names---personal names.  One of them is my name.  I like to think I am a living “story of love” being written out.  Much of my love story has been written.  Not every chapter is a crowning success.  There are those chapters of stupidity, lostness and being wrong.  But I am confident of the ending. 
   
What I want to do as I write the remaining few chapters is to operate with the full knowledge that my life is a “story of love” unfolding.  I want to co-operate with my co-author and write the strongest finish possible.  I want my life to bear witness to the fact that it is not just my life.  It is also the Life of the One who is living within me---co-authoring my “story of love.”

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