are many things that can be said of the Holy Trinity, but St. John the
Evangelist tells us simply that "God is love" (1 John 4: 8, 16). These
three words actually speak the most profound truth about God: Love is the very
"inner life" of the Holy Trinity. Here, we are speaking about the center point
of all life, the heart of all things we can say about God.Referring to this scripture verse Pope St.
John Paul II has said, "these words are the keystone of the truth about God"
(Pope John Paul II, General Audience, Oct. 2, 1985). A keystone is a central
wedge shaped stone of an archway and the central supporting element of the
whole. "God is love" is the "rock solid" truth that connects all the other
truths about God together.
Fr. Karl Rahner has written that, "the most
intimate center of reality, the heart of all reality is love..." (K.
Rahner, "Coeur" in Encyclopedie de la foi, Cogitatio fidei 15 (Paris, 1965)
1:202). What a bold and powerful statement this is! This can only be true if,
in fact, God is the most intimate center and heart of all reality. He is!
Again, St. John tells us that "love is of God" (1 John 4:7B). I amreminded of the words of St. Therese of
Lisieux from her autobiography. She writes: "O Jesus, my love, at last I have
found my calling: my call is love...In the heart of the Church, my
mother, I will be love..." (cited in LH vol. IV, p. 1451). Again, what a
rich and profound statement this is! This is where contemplative intercessors
are called to live at all times--at the most intimate center of the heart of
the Church and the world. Like St. Therese our call, too, is to be love. This
is only possible through union with God who is love. When we become one with
God we become one with love! One way we express this love is to pray for other
people. This is our ministry as contemplative intercessors.
Romans 5:5 St. Paul tells us that, "the love of God has been poured out
into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us". The
Holy Spirit is the "Spirit of Love".Surely, He is the third person of the Trinity, and of course we know Him
by other titles such as 'the Lord and Giver of Life', the Spirit of truth, the
Spirit of holiness just to name a few.But to say that He is the "Spirit of Love" is to state the most
essential truth about the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit is love, He
is Gift! As Gift He is given by the Father and Jesus to be received and
welcomed into our hearts. He is "the hidden God" who is both love and gift.
Pope St. John Paul II has called the Holy Spirit "the good gift" par
excellence"; "He is like a fire of love" (John Paul II, General Audiences,
Nov. 21st, 1990). We sense this fire of love in the description of
Jesus, the Victorious Lamb, in Revelation 1:14. We're told that "his eyes were
like a fiery flame". In the eyes of Jesus one sees reflected the fire of the
love of the Holy Spirit dwelling in his heart. It is no wonder then why Jesus
tells the Samaritan woman at the well, "If you knew the gift of God..."
(John 4:10). Jesus wants her to experience the "Spirit of Love" in her heart
like a "fountain of love", a "fountain of life". It is through the "Spirit of
Love" that we "come to know and believe in the love God has for us" (1
John 4:16). Isn't this what we desire for every person whom we intercede
for--that they experience God's love to such a great extent that they truly
begin to believe in His love for them?! The gift that our ministry offers our
Church, nation and world is one of praying for others to have an experience of
God's love and come to believe in this extraordinary love.
Every authentic charism in the Church is a
gift of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is the "Spirit of Love" every
charism is intended to be a gift of Love from the Holy Spirit for the building
up of the Church. Love is meant to be the heart of every charism. Our
charism--'to live Jesus and his cross'--must always be rooted and grounded in
God's Love. Love is the heart of our call because God is the heart of our call.
The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to use for our ministry of communal
intercession. For example, one may have a strong gift of prophecy; another may
have a gift of sensing scripture, another a gift of knowledge, or a gift of
faith. Yet, we always keep in mind that the primary gift, the first gift of the
Holy Spirit, is the "Spirit of Love" Himself. St. Augustine reminds us that it
is "the Holy Spirit through whom God's love spreads in our hearts by
making the Trinity dwell in us..." (De Trinitate, XV, 18,32: PL 42, 1082-83).
We might say that the Spirit of Love is like a spreading, penetrating perfume
whose fragrance fills our hearts so that we in turn can pray for others to have
this same experience of God's "aromatic" love.
When the Spirit of Love fills someone's heart
that person can become a true believer who "worship[s] the Father in Spirit and
truth" (John 4:23). The Spirit of Love allows us to experience the Father in
freedom and in the truth of our real identity. How many people today really
don't believe in God's deep, personal love for them, and therefore are living
out of a false identity?! How many people actually embrace the lie that tells
them that they are unlovable, or that they have been abandoned by God. When
someone experiences God's personal love they begin togrow in their faith in God overtime. St. Paul
tells us that "one believes with the heart" (Rom. 10:10). Real heart-rooted
faith comes from one's experience of God's personal, intimate love. One becomes
a true believer in God's goodness: "Let my heart rejoice in your salvation; let
me sing of the LORD, "He has been good to me" (Psalm 13:6).
tells his disciples that , "he does not ration his gift of the Spirit" (John
3:34). Isn't this encouraging news for all of us. Both the Father and Jesus
want each of us to receive an abundance of their love so that we can love as
they do. We are most like God when we choose to love. This is why contemplative
intercessors need to ask for the "Spirit of love" to fill us often with his presence;
for, love is our prayer power when we intercede for others. A loving heart is a praying heart. Indeed,
God's love has penetrating power to impact the hearts of those whom we pray
for. In his high priestly prayer found in the seventeenth chapter of St.
John's Gospel Jesus asks the Father, "that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them" (John 17:26). Ever since Pentecost this has
been possible. Each of us can now intercede for others with God's own love.
What we desire for all of those whom we pray for is that they have a personal
and intimate experience of God's love through the movement of the Spirit of
Love active within our own hearts as we intercede for them.We want every person to have what we have
graciously received: "to know the love of Christ that surpasses
knowledge" (Eph. 3:19). We desire every person to experience the "Kingdom of
Love" alive in their heart.
Scriptures: Luke 11:13; John 14:23; 1 John 4:13; 1
1)How well do I know the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, in my life?
How would I describe my relationship with the Holy Spirit?
2)Are there times when I
struggle to truly believe in the love God has for me?