In this second reflection on the Advent letter by Father Tomaž Mavrič, CM, we are invited to meditate on one of the most famous expressions of Saint Vincent de Paul: “Love is inventive unto infinity.”
These weekly reflections, based on the letter of the Superior General, are offered with the hope that they will help us all to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord.
You may read the first meditation, “Three Pillars of Vincentian Way of Life” in this link.
Hidden in plain sight
How many times have I read and quoted the words of Vincent “love is inventive unto infinity”? How many times have I prayed the words “Lord, life is changed not ended” (Mass of the Resurrection)? Yet, somehow I never connected the dots! With a figurative slap to my head, meditating on Fr. Mavric’s letter helped me connect the dots.
Coping with the death of someone we love
The death of a loved one hurts. There is a deep void in our lives. The loss of the possibility of this person’s presence weighs heavily. We counted on this person and he or she is no longer a part of our lives!
A major challenge of grief is to establish a new relationship that transcends physical presence. So we celebrate anniversaries, visit their graves, donate to causes in their name. Sometimes we feel their presence, hear their words when faced with difficult situations. In the process, we establish a presence that transcends their physical absence.
“Life is changed, not ended”
The light bulb turned on when I read Fr. Mavric’s words “Jesus’ imagination found this concrete means to be with us always, to accompany us always, and to remain with us always until the end of the world.” “Life is changed, not ended.” Jesus showed us how life is changed, not ended.
In a stronger way than ever I realized, I see the genius of Jesus giving us himself hidden in plain sight under the appearances of bread and wine.
“foreseeing that His absence could cause some forgetfulness or cooling off in our hearts, He wanted to avoid this danger by instituting the Most August Sacrament, in which He is as truly and substantially present as He is in heaven above”
Using an ordinary, everyday event of sharing food and drink, Jesus gave us a way to establish a new relationship with him.
But it was not just something between ourselves and Jesus. In saying “do this in remembrance of me” he reminded us that we are all his brothers and sisters. We must wash one another’s feet in remembrance of him. In washing one another’s feet we discover how Jesus is still present among us, hidden in plain sight. We learn to see things sacramentally. We see that there is more to reality than meets the eye.
“His Love, inventive to infinity, keeps surprising us today, here and now!”
The disciples were surprised by Jesus in the ordinary events of their lives. Fishing, anointing, eating. It was in the person of the “gardener” that Mary encountered Jesus. It was in the breaking of the bread that the apostles realized he was still among them.
We must allow ourselves to be surprised by his inventive love today, here and now! Thinking “eucharistically” means seeing more deeply into the events of our lives. More on that in the next meditation.
For now, I must admit that I never saw the connection that was hidden in plain sight. In the Eucharist, for those who believe life is changed, not ended.