A few months back, I received a personal message on FaceBook from a college student that I came to know at Midwestern State University. She shared about her recent date with a young man. I requested her permission to share it with you:
Hi Padre! Yesterday evening, I went on this weird date. The guy was very nice, but unfortunately, clearly interested in one thing…so today I took myself on a picnic and I brought this book with me! Hopefully, I can learn something. I feel like the guys my age are slightly garbage and I’m surrounded by dudes who live and breath hookup culture…am I supposed to pray about this stuff? I’m not sure if God super cares about this secular part of my life…but anyways if you have time in your busy schedule can you send up good vibes to God on my behalf? I’m trying not to fall into temptation with these worldly dudes because I want what God wants for me in a life partner but it’s kind of difficult to find a godly one! Maybe he’s inside taking a nap somewhere lol.
Reading this message made me really sad. She was genuinely hoping and still looking for a man after the Lord Jesus Christ‘s own heart who can love her for who she is instead of what she can offer! It is so hard to find someone who can be genuine, honest, and transparent, willing to be vulnerable with the other side instead of simply putting up a show or playing game as to be someone greater or different than he or she really is. I can somewhat sympathize with this student, for I, myself, had tried many times to find real love in different places.
I had asked someone out…and got rejected. I had cared for someone but never confessed because I did not want to hurt her heart, especially when I knew that I was called to be a priest. I had loved someone.
I had tried to find genuine love, too, but there was no really anyone who could really ever satisfied the deep desire of intimacy of heart. There were times that I was tempted, and other times, people looked to me for companionship, but neither of that was love. There were times that I just wanted to be less lonely and feel needed, but that was not true love. In all honesty, while I have many good friends and people who care and love me, I have not found any other love except in Christ Jesus, even though there are more days that I am struggling with my loneliness than many of you.
It is important, then, to remember that love does not mean to be guaranteed to be free from loneliness. Love is much more, knowing who we are and why we love! Love is not simply an emotional or sentimental subject, LOVE NEVER FAILS! It is hard to really love. Sometimes it does not make any sense in the mind, according to our intellect. Other times, it defies what the emotional or sentimental reactions want at the moment. For some reasons, somehow, our heart understands when it seeks, desires, understands, and able to rest in the genuine, transparent, and self-giving love that comes from the heart of God.
Growing up in Viet Nam, and as a child of the ’80s, I used to hear many foreign songs since my parents love 80’s soft rock music. Even though I did not understand many of the songs and their lyrics at the time, I later came to appreciate their meanings in life. One song perhaps stuck out the most for me is “All Out of Love” by Air Supply. I believe its chorus struck the heart when it comes to seeing our human struggle to find love, to be loved and to love.
I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you
I know you were right believing for so long
I’m all out of love, what am I without you
I can’t be too late to say that I was so wrong
As broken human beings, even with our best intentions to love, we have all fallen short. Even with our best intentions, we have hurt one another at times. Even with our best intentions to express ourselves, there are things that are so intimate and hard to put into words that, even when we had tried to express them in the past, no one seems to be able to relate on the deeper level — only the Lord can understand. There are things deep within our hearts that only He can understand, for our hearts were made for Him and to receive His genuine, self-giving love. There is a special place in each and every one of our hearts that is reserved for Him and only He can only fill it! There are some things that can only be understood and shared with Him as the Creator of our hearts.
St. Alphonsus de Liguori once asked why would the Lord Jesus Christ ever think of something so radical and unimaginable as to become food for humanity, subsist in what seems to be ordinary piece of bread, locked up in tabernacles around the world which at times forgotten and abandoned, if it is not because He loves us! Only God who is so deeply and madly in love with us could ever imagine and do something that unimaginable and radical. Therefore, when we receive Him in the Eucharist, we experience this selfless and self-giving love that is so pure and true in a very real and tangible way! What is said at the words of institution, “This is my Body — This is my Blood — Given up for you!” is real. Our Lord meant it! He gives us His all every time we receive the Eucharist. Therefore, let us ask ourselves, too. Every time we receive communion, do we know who we are receiving and why? Have we received Him worthily or do we only do it “because everyone else is doing it”?
Fr. Jean-Marc Fournier, the priest-chaplain of the Paris Firefighters who ran inside Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris to save the Crown of Thorns and other important relics said in an interview, “Everybody understands that the Crown of Thorns is an absolutely unique and extraordinary relic, but the Blessed Sacrament is Our Lord, really present in his body, soul, divinity, and humanity and you understand that it is hard to see someone you love perish in the blaze. As firefighters, we often see casualties from fire and we know its effects; this is why I sought to preserve above all the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” I cried when I read this beautiful interview in testament to our faith. The Eucharist is more than a piece of bread or a cup of wine! It is truly the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and we are called to love and receive Him worthily, in response to the immense love He has given us through the gift of His very self and each and every Mass.
I hope and pray that each and every one of us can personally and truly understand the beautiful love given to us in the Eucharist and not take it for granted. May we appreciate and receive His self-giving words with loving hearts. Let us remember His words and take them to heart as we give Him our hearts totally and completely, for it is truly, “This is my Body — This is my Blood — Given up for you!”