January 23, 2009

The Joyful Catholic / Rick Hermann

How to enjoy God’s loving kisses in our lives

Rick HermannOne day, a grandmother gave her 4-year-old grandson a big kiss on his cheek.

When he brushed his hand against the damp spot, she asked, “Are you wiping off my kiss?”

He paused and, thinking mighty fast, replied, “No, Grandma, I’m rubbing it in.”

Like this loving grandmother, God also kisses each of us in many different ways.

Do we hurry to rub it off? When it comes to God’s love for us, do we duck his kiss because we do not want to be beholden to him?

We all want to be independent and make our own decisions. Do we think that if we accept God’s loving kisses, it will obligate us to submit to his authority and conform our lives to his plans?

This is too hard for us, we fear, so we are tempted to turn away from God and his kisses.

A thousand times a day we may resist his kindness and block the channels of his life-giving love.

We brush off a helping hand or snub a friend.

We turn on the television or Internet instead of turning to our families and friends.

We abandon our loved ones under the pretense that we need to “find ourselves” first.

We get high on drinking or drugs rather than getting high on life.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

We hurry past a poor beggar as he holds out his dirty hand for a coin.

We avert our eyes from an invalid in a wheelchair.

We close our doors to the downtrodden and miss the chance to entertain an angel.

Why do we make it so difficult to receive a kiss?

Soon, we neglect the sun shining brightly overhead. We protest against God’s authority. We may even leave our church and start a new one.

We disregard his loving commandments and treat them as mere suggestions.

We disdain his righteous ways, dismiss his sacred Word and brush aside his grace-filled sacraments.

Finally, we lose the hospitality in our hearts, and our cheeks grow cold.

Why do we rub off his kisses in this manner?

Thank God our Creator is persistent in seeking us! Our Prince of Peace yearns to awaken us from our lonely dream with his irresistible kiss of love.

If we accept the embrace of our Creator, we will be truly liberated. If we do not wipe away his kiss, we will discover that we are able to do his will with ease.

Far from being stifled or oppressed by his reign, as we feared, we rejoice to find ourselves truly liberated and free at last.

We are free to do his will, and we do it gladly because we know he seeks only our best.

Now we see ourselves clearly in the parable of the prodigal son: “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Lk 15:20).

Gradually, we discover a thousand of God’s kisses coming our way every day.

Every smile that we receive and every kindness that we perceive is now recognized as a life-giving blessing from God.

We find faith, hope and love in unexpected places.

To our surprise, as often as we receive God’s kisses we find ourselves inspired to offer similar blessings to others.

With every helping hand we give, every sin that we forgive, and every life that we let live, we magnify his love and multiply his blessings.

So the next time God kisses your cheek, don’t be so quick to rub it off. Rub it in.

Then turn the other cheek… for more kisses.

(Rick Hermann of St. Louis is a Catholic author and career coach. His e-mail address is RH222@sbcglobal.net.)

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