Throughout the season of Lent, if there is one thing that has become increasingly apparent to me in my spiritual life, it is how God loves our hearts so well. That may seem like a very naive realization - after all, we've been singing "Jesus loves me" since kindergarten, so the idea that God loves us on a personal level shouldn't be a shocker. But the further I fall in love with the maker of my soul, the more I realize that His love is radical and specific to the desires of our heart. Which makes sense of course - the very essence of God is love (1 John 4:8). His ultimate gift to us is salvation and the gift of Heaven - if we choose, through acts of the will, to align our lives in accordance with His plan. For a God whose very essence is love, it makes sense that the cross has the ability to be inclusive of every human being's love language. Christ's love demonstrated on the cross is not an exclusive, members-only love. Instead, it is an all-encompassing love affair between God and His people.
Gary Chapman is the famed author of the book "5 Love Languages," in which he explains that every person has a love language that they speak - one that best fills their love tank to the brim. In relationships, romantic especially, two people can speak different love languages, and misinterpret the other's desire to love them.
"In the book, I share some of my encounters with couples through the years that brought me to realize that what makes one person feel loved does not necessarily make another person feel loved. For a number of years, I have been helping couples in the counseling office discover what their spouse desired in order to feel loved. Eventually, I began to see a pattern in their responses. Therefore, I decided to read the notes I had made over twelve years of counseling couples and ask myself the question, “When someone sat in my office and said, ‘I feel like my spouse doesn’t love me,’ what did they want?” Their answers fell into five categories. I later called them the five love languages."
But there never has to be that confusion from God concerning how to love YOU. He made you and knows the count of hairs on your head. So loving you but failing to speak your love language isn't possible with Him. His sacrifice on the cross encompasses ever love language possible.
Find your love language below and discover Christ's love for you and your heart on the cross.
Quality Time: Christ loves you so desperately that he would rather hang on a tree than run the risk of not spending eternity with you. There is an incredible amount of love through the language of quality time felt throughout the crucifixion process and even after Christ's death here on earth.
The Crucifixion opens up an incredible potential for quality time with Christ - essentially because the crucifixion is not bound by the human concept of time. Christ died for every sin that was and would be, so his crucifixion exists out of time. This means that even today, in 2016, Christ's crucifixion is still present, and our interaction with Him and with sin have potential to add weight to the cross.
Yet, because of Christ's actions during the last supper, He is available all the time even today through His true presence in the Eucharist. He's never not present in the consecrated host. In my life, There are times when I desperately ache for interaction with my boyfriend, my best friend, and my sisters. Yet they're not there constantly, they aren't always accessible. They're in meetings, in different towns, at the doctors, working on homework, eating dinner, out with friends, you name it. But Christ is always there, waiting for interaction and quality time with me. That quality time originates at the Last Supper, and is brought to fruition on the cross.
Beautifully, the tangible love of God is not bound by the nails that hold His hands and feet to the cross. Instead, the physical aspect of His love continues with the sacrament of the Eucharist. In Persona Christi, through the priest, Christ offers His body relentlessly in the Mass daily throughout the world.
Christopher West speaks about this when he talks about his wife's father, who he never met. He tells the story “At Mass the day after his wedding, having just consummated his marriage the night before, he was in tears after receiving the Eucharist. When his new bride inquired, he said, ‘For the first time in my life, I understood the meaning of Christ’s words, ‘This is my body given for you.’”
Christ gives us His very body - not holding any part of Himself back. His sacrificial love is a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift for His bride, the Church. Beautifully, here at the cross, Christ also embodies the beauty Pope Saint John Paul II taught about through Theology of the Body...but that's a whole other blog post.
Acts of Service:
Christ hung on the cross for over three hours, His breath ragged, His body desperately yearning for relief. He hung on that cross for you - the ultimate act of service, especially in comparison to our human attempts at acts of selfless love. Christ's death on the cross was not for your temporary good - Dear, let me unload the dishwasher for you so that you have more time...even though I'll have to unload it again tomorrow too. Nor was it for His own benefit - Here, let me help you go get groceries so we can get the pantry stocked and make dinner.
His death was the most selfless act of service that has ever existed. Christ was not tainted by the presence of sin, yet He took upon Himself the weight of your sins so that He could love you eternally.
Words of Affirmation:
Gary Chapman touches on this, pointing to Luke 23:24, "Jesus said, 'Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'"
Yet Catholicism offers a continuation of that love thanks to the beauty of Holy Thursday. Christ gave his disciples the power of the persona of Christ - whose sins they forgave, they were forgiven. Whose sins they retained, they were retained. And so, the most beautiful words of affirmation that a human being can hear are those in the confessional:
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of Your Son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
There are an incredible amount of gifts that Christ gives to you during His time on the cross.
"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home." Christ gives us His mother, with his disciple representing humankind. Mary becomes a channel through which we can grow closer to the heart of Christ, thanks to her intercession.
"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit." Matthew 27:50 The Son of God, the Second person in the Blessed Trinity, gives the gift of His life so that you can live eternally with Him
It's a gift - it isn't forced, or mandatory or non-returnable. The beauty of the gifts that Christ pours out on the cross lies in the fact that you have the choice to accept them. Will you?