Jesus Christ and the Paschal Mystery/My Faith/Teen Faith/Theology/Who Is God? For the Days You Feel Unloved by Faith Noah For the longest time in my faith journey, I hardly touched a Bible. I heard it proclaimed at Mass and I knew all the stories from religion class, but I only used it for the good ‘ole “close your eyes and flip to a random page to see a message from God” technique. Needless to say that was rarely effective in helping me deepen my personal relationship with God. I thought the Inspired Word of God was boring. And Jesus? He seemed distant. He spoke in too many metaphors. He didn’t say the words I wanted to hear, or at least not the way I wanted to hear them. He wasn’t lovey-dovey. After all, He didn’t even hug anyone! When I began to tackle the notion of Jesus’ love for us, the Bible was the last place I thought to look. BIBLE: 1, ME: 0 “Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus even say, ‘I love you’,” I once thought. Boy, was I wrong. According to the Bible, Jesus doesn’t just love you. He’s crazy about you: He knows us (John 10:27-28). He intimately created us, like a potter sculpting clay (Isaiah 64:7). We’re His “little ones,” and He doesn’t want to see us sin or stray (Matthew 18:6-14). He is with us always, until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). We are His children (John 13:33). He loves and reveals Himself to us (John 14:21). He loves us like God the Father loves Him. AKA, a lot (John 15:9). He loves us so much that He endured the epitome of pain and suffering so we wouldn’t have to (John 15:13). His love is so strong that absolutely nothing can separate us from it. Nothing (Romans 9:5). So, yeah, you could say God loves us… BUT HOW DO WE KNOW? I don’t know about you, but even after seeing Jesus Himself say quite clearly that He loves me, I was still looking for more. I am the center of God’s world?? He is thinking about me all the time?? No way. How could God love me that much? How could He devote that much attention to me?… Individually? Didn’t He have other things to worry about? I think the root of this problem was that I had given in to the idea of artificial love. Surely, you’ve seen it. Nowadays, artificial love fuels our relationships. We’re giving up on waiting for the real deal. We’re willing to accept anyone who gives us the time of day instead of waiting for the one to give us their whole selves. It fuels our desires. Now, we hunger for that celebrity to follow us, to favorite our tweet, or to even read it. If, for just one second, they’re thinking about us, we’ll be happy. If, for just one day, they knew we existed, our life would be complete. We spend so much time working to gain someone’s attention for one second that of course it’s hard to buy into the notion that we are always on God’s mind. Of course it’s hard to believe that someone would die for us, when we see only fake and fleeting “like,” not sacrificial and lasting love. WE ACHE FOR MORE Our hearts are restless until they rest in God (St. Augustine). Nothing else is sufficient. That’s the reason we all long to be wooed, to be loved, to be wanted. But nothing can satisfy this desire to be loved except for God, who is love. Our souls are hardwired for His love. There’s a hole in our hearts that He alone can fill. And what’s beautiful about that sentiment is that the same can be said for Him. In fact, the feelings are more than mutual. Jesus has a hole in His heart that you alone can fill. You, individually. No one else can fill it, and He’s not going to rest until He’s got you. DOES JESUS REALLY LOVE YOU? Heck yeah He does. Look in the mirror. He formed you in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). The coolest Person in the world doesn’t just know you exist; He willed you to exist. Touch your hair. Every single strand, He has counted (Matthew 10:30). He doesn’t simply know you; He knows everything about you. Put your hand over your heart. Feel that? Each heartbeat is a reaffirmation of the fact that God has given you life today (Job 33:4). God doesn’t just like you. He loves you, and with each heartbeat He tells you that He’s happy you’re alive. And finally, look at the Eucharist. That is His Body given up for you (Luke 22:19). Each time you receive Him, you behold tangible evidence of His sacrificial and timeless love. Jesus holds nothing back to love you. He doesn’t just give you the time of day. He gives you His whole self, and then some. “I chose you” (John 15:16). “I have loved you” (John 13:34). “You are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). Let me add one more. Although it’s not a direct quote from the Bible, I know it’s true. “I love you.” — Jesus God loves you, and He is dying (and did die) to prove it. Photo by Aundre Larrow, logo added.