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A Surrendering Love
A Surrendering Love

God Surrenders to Us in Love

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Holy Thursday

Franciscan teacher Ilia Delio sees the Incarnation as God surrendering to us in humble, human form:  

Surrender [to God] expresses one’s belief that God is love and love never fails. We would be remiss to think, however, that surrender is a movement in trust and love only on our part, as if God might be waiting for us to hand over the reins of control. Such an idea misses out on the tremendous mystery of God as love, for our surrender to God is based on God’s surrender to us. . . . 

The surrender of God in the person of Jesus Christ is the great mystery of God. God does not hold back and wait until we get things right; rather, God loves us where we are and as we are. In the Incarnation, divine love has found us and has surrendered to us. It has handed itself over to us to do as we please.  

What do we do with this tremendous gift of divine love so freely given to us? Some of us are blind to this love, so we ignore it. Others do not believe that God surrenders—completely in love with us—and therefore reject it. Still others fear that a God of self-giving love could be weak, and so they question the divine love. But for those who breathe in the Spirit of God, the surrender of God in love is the greatest act of humility, and one can only receive this love in poverty and humility. Receptivity marks the person of surrender. [1]

For Father Richard, Saints Francis (1182–1226) and Clare of Assisi (1194–1253) are powerful examples of people who surrendered their lives to God, and discovered who they really were in God:  

God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourselves. It’s a paradox. I can’t prove it to you, and it sure doesn’t always feel like that, but I promise it’s true. Francis and Clare lost and let go of all fear of suffering; all need for power, prestige, and possessions; and all need for their small self to be important—and they came out on the other side knowing something essential: who they really were in God and thus who they really were. Their house was then built on “bedrock,” as Jesus says (Matthew 7:24). Such an ability to really change is often the fruit of suffering, and various forms of poverty, since the false self does not surrender without a fight to its death. If suffering is “whenever we are not in control” (my definition), then we can understand why some form of suffering is absolutely necessary to teach us how to live beyond the illusion of control and to give that control back to God.  

Francis and Clare voluntarily leapt into the very fire from which most of us are trying to escape, with total trust that Jesus’ way of the cross could not, and would not, be wrong.  

[1] Ilia Delio, Ten Evenings with God (Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 2008), 79–80. 

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2014), 20–21. 

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Leaves (detail), 2021, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Jenna Keiper, Christ Figure from the Office of Richard Rohr (detail), 2021, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Jenna Keiper, Web (detail), 2021, photograph, Washington, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States.

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: Fallen leaves in water surrender to the cycles of seasons. A spider’s web catches and kills a passing fly. Can we surrender to these moments too? Death is an invitation to slip beyond the web of knowing. What might we find if we allowed the cycle of death and resurrection in our own lives?

Story from Our Community:

My father died July 3, 2021. I was with him as his body became cold, when he cried out his last words, and his breath left his body. I have been a Christian all my life yet this loss has really caused a crisis in my faith. I no longer feel his presence. All my life I have believed in heaven, believed in the resurrection of Jesus, but what about me? What about my Dad? Is this all there is? Is he really gone?
—Kim Q.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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