With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you” (Jeremiah 31:3). This verse is both a comfort and a challenge to us. It is true that God’s love is older than the ages. He has loved us from eternity. But it is also true that mankind, God’s beloved children, have willfully fallen away from that love on countless occasions. Yet, he keeps his mercy toward us. We know this because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is why it is proper for us to always give him our thanksgiving and praise; not just with our words, but especially through our deeds.

Each one of us are conceived in God’s love. That love remains always faithful toward us, even though, in our foolishness, we often refuse to acknowledge it. We often hear the cynical say to us things like: “You can’t prove that there is a God, much less one who loves us, or who would have mercy on us.” Or, “If God loves us, why is there so much suffering in the world?” There are, of course, answers to questions like these. As Christians, we must reflect on them and find ways to respond to them with kindness, courage, understanding, compassion and, of course, the gift of faith.

It is a fact that there are many who have not experienced love in this world, who have not had the gift of a loving family, who may have experienced the sinful effects of neglect or abuse, who do not trust in the existence of love. It is up to us, then, to give them the experience of love. We must love them even in their anger. We must relate to them with compassion and enduring patience. We must listen to them; really listen to them, and respond to their angers and frustrations with our care and compassion. We must let them “see” and “feel” that our love is real. In this way, they may have their very first experiences of love in their lives. And it is love that saves everything.

John tells us in 1 John 4: 7ff: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” The greatest aspect of divine (and human) love is forgiveness. It is in the experience of forgiveness that we come to know the liberating power of mercy. We are to be that love, that Christ-like love, for all those around us, but especially for those who have not known love. Only then can they come to know that God’s love is “age-old,” enduring, and merciful.

Lord, Because you have so loved us, give us the faith and the courage and the patience to love all others in the manner that you have loved us. Let us bring the experience of your eternal love to those who have never known it. We ask for these graces in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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