Life is a unique movement of light where the beginning and the end meet. Just as we are born from our mother’s womb into earthly life, so too, we’ll be born from the Earth’s womb into eternal life. The impulse that assures the completeness of such movement is the impulse of Love. Among terrestrial creatures, few newborns are as vulnerable as Man and, in my opinion, this is due to the fact that Man, unlike animals, is called and becomes a person through a constant and fundamental loving dependency. Therein lies man’s deepest identity. We are constantly held by a loving embrace that secures and allows our life to grow, and we will equally be received by the same embrace into supreme plenitude when we pass over into eternal life.
At all times, the challenge (or the art) of life is to recognize that we need this embrace. We need to allow ourselves to be embraced. In other words, it is fundamental to recognize that we need God’s love, and that we need to let ourselves be loved. In fact, through our earthly journey, behind all our actions and choices, hides that unique yearning to find that embrace, that safe home environment where we can rest. Yet, this is not as easy as it seems, since, in order to do it, we must also recognize the fact that we are vulnerable, fragile, and that we need to expose our hearts. Precisely because of this, childhood is usually remembered as the “golden age.” By contrast, during adolescence we start to separate from our family, to look for our own personal space. New activities, acquaintances, relationships, etc., move us to try to find that space of deep intimacy outside of the family and home context.
However, that space cannot be found outside, either, because it is deep in our hearts. That is why it’s important to go back to the past to look for those signs of love that constituted and allowed us to grow; to renew our strength and confront the wounds that caused us to question that love, for the sake of healing them. Thus, in a second moment, we’ll be able to discover God’s love which underlies all these experiences.
Mom – A Mother, Missing Home
Learning to let oneself be embraced and keeping in mind our loving dependency on God is an art. In order to live a full life in love, we must recognize the fact that we are vulnerable and in need, that we are children because only in such a way we’ll be able to accept God’s love, which is always a gift. Children know this very well and don’t feel embarrassed; they spontaneously raise their arms to ask for that embrace because they admit their need, their fears, their limits. They cry and call their parents because they know they are children. In essence, this is why the Kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like children (Mt. 19: 14). The tragic problem is that when we grow up, we become hardened (due to life’s wounds and disappointments) and we end up believing that we’re no longer children. We think we become independent and autonomous.
Yes, we believe that we have reached adulthood and that we don’t need anyone (the light of our own reason is enough). So we falsify and contradict our deepest identity, closing ourselves to that love that’s always given to us unconditionally but which, in order to be received, actually requires us to raise our arms as children do. Whoever trusts oneself, whoever considers oneself a self-sufficient and complete adult, will never be able to embrace what presupposes necessity and gratuitousness. In fact, in that sense, humility is the condition that makes possible that love. Because only someone who recognizes his or her own limits and learns to live with them patiently can open up to others and let him or herself be embraced by them.
As mentioned before, unfortunately, and inevitably over time, love disappoints. In a society that promotes isolation and egocentrism, we easily lose that existential synchronicity we lived in when we were children. We lose that spontaneity, that confidence, that freedom, and progressively begin to put on masks to protect ourselves. We also habituate ourselves to substitutes, because we are afraid to confront and return to that original state of vulnerability and nakedness. Nevertheless, truth doesn’t change, no matter how much we cover over or try to adjust it. In our deepest selves, we perceive the nostalgia and uneasiness of our inner child. “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!”, Job reminded us [Job 1:21]. The nakedness and fragility of our existence are the condition for and the possibility of love.
It’s no coincidence that God, Himself, was born naked, vulnerable, and needing an embrace (from Mary, from Joseph, from God), and dies, likewise, naked, vulnerable, and needing another embrace (from the Father who will resurrect Him). Herein lies the secret of life, the secret of light: the model and highest point of perfection is a completely vulnerable, naked love. Only by accepting this truth, that is, by accepting the fact that we are children, entirely needy of God, and by uncovering ourselves before Him in order to feel His infinite love, we will be able to transfigure and heal all the wounds and lapses of memory caused by worldly, fragile, and fleeting loves.
The great challenge is to discover—looking into our inner selves— how all those conditioned impulses of love, which we have perceived throughout our personal history, hide from us and obscure our vision of the unconditional Love of a Father who loves us from eternity and who tells us so in every moment: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Lk 3: 22). If we manage to enter into contact with such love, our life will become a beam of light towards eternity. With penetrating clarity, Romano Guardini explains in his book “Acceptance of One’s Self”:
Who am I? I can only understand it in He who is beyond me. In other words, in He who has given me myself. Man cannot understand himself by looking into himself. The questions that contain the word “why” and the word “I” —why am I the way I am?; why can I only have what I have?, Why am I, instead of simply not being?— cannot be answered by Man alone, only God has the answer. And this is where we get close to what the Holy Spirit means, He who we are told is “the Spirit of truth,” the One who “introduces in all truth” and, furthermore, He is the Spirit of Love. He can teach me how to understand that truth that no one else can teach, that is, my own truth. But, how? Not through science or philosophy, but by looking into myself, for He is God’s inner being. In the Holy Spirit God is Father, in the Holy Spirit, is Son. Perhaps we could even say that: in the Holy Spirit, God is God. In Him, God pervades Himself of Himself, and is in unity with Himself, enjoying Himself.
In the same vein, I believe that one of the most beautiful aspects of motherhood and fatherhood —biological or spiritual— is to discover, see, and touch the power of love, a power so great that it is able to generate new life and, with it, new hope. Israel lived in expectation of this hope (of the new life, or rather, the definitive life). Israel lived in expectation of the fulfillment of the definitive promise: that some woman in the middle of this wonderful, but fragile, chain of generations from the seed of Abraham —that had begun to perish again— gave birth to a child capable of reigning over death, a child capable of giving this fine thread of hope and love a higher condition, a new density, a quality that not even death was able to snatch.
That’s precisely what Christ brought when He came to the world: the infinite love of God which, touching, as it were, a new link in our fragile chain of embraces, transformed it into endless life, uniting it again to the Father’s infinite embrace. In this way, by getting in touch with God’s love, human life acquires a new dimension, expanding always to the infinite, going beyond time and space, beyond death. Light became flesh and made his dwelling among us. This is why every new birth is doubly happy, since it isn’t only an earthly life that comes to the world, but also, and especially, the possibility of a new heavenly life, a true shot to eternity, as Fr. Hurtado would say.
This is where we must spring into action to ensure that every new member of the family, every new life that comes into the world, can get in touch with this infinite love that transmits and gives eternal life, that is, that every new life gets to know and get in touch with the Spirit of Christ.