Who is God? A Mendicant for Love



"Jesus is even much closer when he hides Himself.
He hides so to be able to beg for our love."

These words, written by @Ste_de_Lisieux, and attributed to Saint Therese of Lisieux, reminded me of part of the Lenten message of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI back in 2007:

Brothers and Sisters, let us look at Christ pierced on the Cross!
He is the unsurpassing revelation of God’s love …
On the Cross, it is God himself who begs the love of his creature:
He is thirsty for the love of every one of us … “

Benedict XVI, Lenten Message 2007


I was caught by the image of God as a beggar – like the poor we encounter on the streets seeking for something – God too is hungry to have us as His own! In reality, we are already His for we were created by Him. But by the uniqueness of our creation He has implanted in us free will – the gift to choose to be His or not. And now it is God who waits and hungers for us – for us to desire to be His. He does not pressure us; He does not force His love upon us. He leaves us free to seek Him and love Him. He takes upon Himself the role of a mendicant who accepts what is offered Him.

I often ponder: ‘Why would God want me or love me with all of my shortcomings, my failures, my mediocrity?’ It is a message too incredible, nonetheless to attempt to embrace an image of a begging God. There He is, hunkered down on the road ahead of me, His eyes pleading, “please Lisa Marie, please, don’t pass by my love.” Do I stop, do I lower myself before Him there on the road and let Him quench his thirst?

Should it not be the other way around? Is it not me that needs God? Or am I still struggling to assure myself that I can meet all of my needs on my own? It is a danger to satisfy ourselves with a “self-made holiness” – just as Pharisees of Jesus’ time approached their own religious careers in a way that others saw them as holy by the external acts of their prayer, the length of the fringe on the shawls, their position in the temple. This threat continues to undermine the ‘rendering to God what belongs to Him’ in today’s encounters with God when we measure excellence from external, measurable means, rather than a desire to give to God what is His.

The other part of this challenge to letting God love us, is living in a culture that values individuals that are ‘self-made’, ‘deserving’, and have ‘earned their way’. The idea of receiving something for nothing is an abhorrent  thought in our culture. We earn our keep and our rewards by hard work and sweat. Nothing worth having, I was taught, is given freely; there is always a price to pay. And unfortunately, we sometimes apply this principle to God as well.

It is perhaps this ‘price’ concept that make it so hard for us to allow ourselves to be loved by God. ‘I’m not worthy’, I might say, or ‘He wouldn’t want me… I’ve done things that I’m ashamed of.’ Rather, we want to hold God at arms length until we have cleaned up our acts, or have truly become ‘good’ in order to let Him come close. This is a normal reaction…the incredulity that He wants me as I am – right now at this hour, in my sinfulness. And yet, that is precisely the moment we find Him knocking at our door, His beggar-cup in hand, longing not for food and drink, but to be loved.

One of my favorite psalms says:

“As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My being thirsts for God, the living God. When can I go and see the face of God?”  Psalm 42:2-3

Is it possible that God might have the same longing for each of us, His children? Can we hear Him saying:

“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, my child. When can I expect to see you face to face?”

3 thoughts on “Who is God? A Mendicant for Love

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