In 1962, an Italian wife, mother and medical doctor decided to risk her own life by foregoing medical treatment that would endanger the life of her unborn child. When asked again about her decision, she definitively and simply stated: “I wish that my child should live.” She gave birth to a healthy daughter, her fourth child, but died soon after. We now know this mother as Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. She’s not a Saint because she gave up her life for her daughter, but rather because she had come to know the truth of God’s love and her whole life reflected that truth to others. Her statement – “I wish that my child should live” – is one that emanates from God the Father and from the Heart of Jesus for each of us throughout every moment of our existence.
God wants that we should live. He has chosen us. He is for us. The book of Genesis tells us that, as the Lord completed each aspect of creation, He gazed on it as an artist would and affirmed each: “It is good.” Yet when it came to the pinnacle of creation, the human person, the Lord said something different, and we can almost hear the delight, the Divine exclamation point: “It is very good!” The first and last word about me from the Lord, in creation and in Christ Jesus, is His unshakable, unbreakable yes to me. He has made me in His image and given Himself totally that I might be with Him forever. This is what actually defines me, a possibility, a hope that meets me wherever I am, regardless of my past or any frailty I experience in myself or in my family history. The Lord is always waiting with arms wide open that we might see ourselves as He sees us and thereby live more fully in His peace and as a reflection of His love.
In this fallen world, however, God’s divine proclamation to us, “You are very good!”, is too often progressively smothered by lies accumulated through life. These lies are from the Evil One, who is bent on keeping us from the destiny our loving Father desires for us. They clutter our minds and hearts and interrupt our relationships with the Lord and with others.
They have us waste precious interior energy on worries and concerns that are not based in truth. They disable our capacity to trust others and commit to the hard work of love. They distract us as we walk this pilgrimage to Heaven. Though these lies are from the Evil One, they often work on the subconscious level: if only I work enough to make this or that aspect of life “perfect” then all will be well. If I keep things in control, please others, am better than others, am skinny, rich, savvy, funny, then I will be satisfied. Often we don’t recognize lies from the Evil One because they come through our minds in the first person: I will never really make it, I can’t be loved for who I am, I don’t deserve to be happy, I’ll never change, I’m not good.
When these thoughts infiltrate our inner lives, we can easily begin to build our actions and attitudes on them, instead of on God’s love and mercy. We begin looking at others differently, blaming them for our own dissatisfactions. We can begin making concessions to mediocre, self-centered and even self-destructive patterns of behavior and feel further and further away from the possibility of receiving God’s transforming love.
But it’s never too late. His arms await us. All it takes is a simple turn of the heart towards Him; a gesture of humility and repentance, a request for forgiveness, a willingness to forgive others and move ahead on the path to Heaven. Our God loves us and has great plans for us. As we pay attention to the thoughts on which we are building our actions and attitudes, as we intentionally reject the lies and live out of the truth at the root of our existence, our lives will correspond to who we actually are: God’s emissaries, His children, His very life on earth. As we open ourselves to love, the voice we hear is the voice of truth, the voice of God, resounding in our hearts and minds – a proclamation of decisive victory. And He says “I wish that my child should live.”
Originally printed in IMPRINT Magazine Fall 2013.