It was an historic moment as the Holy Father met with over 50,000 Renewal participants from 55 countries in Rome’s Olympic Stadium. His affirmation of love brought great joy and hope to the Renewal as reflected in these words:
- “You were born of the will of the Spirit as ‘a current of grace in the Church and for the Church.’ This is your definition: a current of grace.”
- “You have received the great gift of the diversity of charisms, diversity that leads to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, to the service of the Church.”
- “Charismatic Renewal is a great force at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel, in the joy of the Holy Spirit.”
It is fitting that the first thing Pope Francis would expect from us is: “conversion to the love of Jesus, which changes life and makes of the Christian a witness of the love of God.” He went on to say: “the Church expects this witness of Christian life and the Holy Spirit helps us to live the coherence of the Gospel for our holiness.”
Conversion to the love of Jesus is often misunderstood by many to mean “conversion to love Jesus,” which is not a bad thing; however it is a response, not the initiating action of Jesus’ love for us!
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). More than reminding ourselves of this great truth, it must become the center of our identity. We are loved by God and it is the embrace of this love that changes us.
Most of us have encountered the living God through our baptism in the Holy Spirit and experienced the love of the Father being poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit as we surrendered to the lordship of Jesus! Scripture tells us that we are so dearly loved by the Father that we have become children of God. He is our Abba and we are his beloved! “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 Jn 3:3).
What I believe conversion to the love of Jesus means is the process of surrendering our perceptions of ourselves, and the perceptions of how others see us, to the absolute truth of who we really are: beloved sons and daughters of God! This is the work of intimacy with Jesus and he is the initiator of that intimacy! Our part in the work is to clear the deck and become receptive to the infinite ways that God wants to lavish his love upon us. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (Jn 15:9). Remain in my love, stay put, and don’t move from my love. Don’t go back to misperceptions of yourself, remain in my love! Don’t try to become something you’re not or something someone else wants you to be, remain in my love.
Throughout your spiritual journey, remain in his love. Jesus goes on to say: “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (Jn 15:10-12). Conversion to the love of Jesus will transform us to be the witnesses the Church needs and expects. And the Spirit of Jesus will empower us to live this life of intimacy so others may come to know that they too are the beloved sons and daughters of God!
(© Pentecost Today, Jimmy Archer, Fall 2014, Vol 39, No. 3, p 10, used with permission)
Jimmy Archer is a member of the National Service Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and a member of the Pastoral Service Team for the Renewal in West Virginia. He and his wife Taffy and son Andrew live in Fairmont, West Virginia.