Preaching on Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday
February 14, 2018
Every good pair of lovers has a secret. It is very intimate to share a secret with someone. It is very special to say something that will never be repeated again.
This Lent, we must to lock ourselves up in a quiet room and share our souls with God. We must tell him our secrets and pour out our hearts. Jesus says, “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to God in secret.” It is beautiful to speak to God behind a closed door.
But we can’t stop with speaking to God. We must also listen in the silence. There is such wisdom in the nuns who claim that by marrying God they are marrying the silence. God courts human souls in silence. He does not need to entice us with smooth moves and quick talk. God needs only silence to make you fall in love with him. When he does use words, he often whispers softly into our ears what we can only hear if we pause a moment to quiet ourselves and listen.
Words are words, and they can be captivating and powerful. There is also action. When we want to say “I love you” to God, we should spend time with the poor. We will listen first. We will serve if they ask. To paraphrase Matthew 25, God is the poor. When we want to give God a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolates, we ought to give to the poor in the form of social justice and personal care.
Love is also sacrifice, and sacrifice entails suffering. We call a suffering sacrifice of love a fast. “Rend your hearts, not your garments,” says the prophet. Let us tear our hearts open so that God’s love can enter. This love will then burn within us but not consume us, as with Moses’ burning bush. We will walk into our hearts, but we must first take off our shoes: we will be stepping on holy ground. Let’s give to God the sacrifice of our hearts. Let’s do all things for the greater glory of God. That is enough of a sacrifice.
For the next forty days, I invite us to speak with God, give to God, and sacrifice for God. If we do, we will find that we, too, have faith in the words of the great Argentine poet Macedonio Fernandez: “I do not believe in the death of those who love, nor do I believe in the life of those who don’t love.”
David Inczauskis, S.J.
Madonna Della Strada Chapel
Loyola University Chicago