Where suspicion is trying to learn trust, it is likely to trust only in a tentative, exploratory way at first. And it will probe the claim that love is unconditional by putting it to the test. This is why people who are just beginning to accept that they are loved, genuinely and for their own sake, not for the faces they hide behind, often react to love by, almost deliberately, making themselves awkward. It is as if they were throwing down a challenge: You say you love me for what I really am. All right, then, see if you can love this! The ingrained habit of suspicion can test love only by hurting it. And deep distrust may have to inflict deep hurt before it can rest content.
And it is not only for the sake of the other that our profession of love must be tested. After all, God tests those who claim to love him, and yet he does not need to conduct experiments to discover what his creatures are like. God tested Abraham, God tested his people in the desert; God tested his Son, for our sake, before his public mission began. And in him we too are tested, and it is for our sake. This testing confronts us with our own reality, and it is this reality which we must surrender to God for our redemption. We are having our own hearts searched out to see what love is really there, and we are also probing love to see whether we are prepared to trust it. And presiding over the whole operation, there stands the cross of Christ. On the cross of Christ the testing of God’s people finally discloses a human response that is wholly true. And it is broken open so that we may share it. To be continued Thursday ...
Simon Tugwell is a Dominican priest and well-known contemporary spiritual writer. His books are available at www.Amazon.com
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