|Anthony de Mello, SJ, an Indian Jesuit of the mid-twentieth century writes, “Behold God, beholding you and smiling”. I remember the first time I experienced the weight of these words in prayer. I began by imagining the love I experience in this earthly life – the love of my parents and closest friends, the love I experience in the wonder and intricacy of creation, in watching new parents so evidently love their child. Then, I attempt to multiply all of this powerful earthly love into infinity, the amount of love God has for me, and I am quickly overwhelmed. Overwhelmed, not in a way that makes me want to run from it, but, that encourages me to stay in the soul-filling feeling of infinite love.
The Gospel reading ends with “In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” How reassuring to read these words, to know that God wants to be close to us. One of those facts that we know, but we can easily forget. However, we are human. Which means, at times, we do feel lost, distant from our relationship with a God who loves us infinitely.
In this season of Advent, this Gospel passage relays the messages of the season – the light of God’s darkness shines bright in the darkness, and hope will prevail. If I were this sheep, I would likely feel fearful and hopeless in being reunited with my flock and shepherd. But, what Jesus reminds us, is that God searches for us in our darkness, bringing us back home to God’s infinite love.
For those of us who may feel lost, may we find hopefulness in this passage. For those of us who are in darkness, may we be on the lookout for the light of God’s love coming to find us. For all the rest of us, may we be beacons of God’s love throughout this Advent season.
Finally, may we rest in the prayer: “Behold God, beholding you and smiling.” Amen.