I am always amazed at how the Gospel works in a backward and upside-down way. In most religious establishments, individuals are taught that if they do good, they will be accepted by God; if they work hard, God will love them; if they pray good prayers, God will hear them.
But the Gospel is unique in that we inherited blessings that we never deserved! Regardless of how much good we do, how hard we work and how eloquently we send our prayers to God, he has already loved, accepted and heard us. It’s because of our depravity that he has adopted us as sons and daughters . . . not because of our trying hard!
One morning, during a devotion, I came across this beautiful poem. It is ancient, yet its message is transcendent:
The madness of love
is a blessed fate;
and if we understood this
we would seek no other:
it brings into unity
what was divided,
and this is the truth:
bitterness it makes sweet,
it makes the stranger a neighbor,
and what was lowly it raises on high.
–Hadewijch of Antwerp, female poet and mystic of the thirteenth-century
I love this poem. It gives examples of how Christ’s love has redeemed the things that were broken. It reminds us that God promises to make the bitterness of life into sweetness that only He can give. We are also reminded of Job 5:11 which says, “He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.”
As Hadewijch says, “If we understood this . . . we would seek no other”. I pray that we will seek to understand this mystery and allow it to move our hearts to seek Him alone.