My friends whom I have exchanged emails with know that I include the following teaching from St. Paul at the bottom of all my outgoing emails as my signature: “Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.” ( 1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 6 )
I include these words from St. Paul so that every time when I send an email, I have an opportunity to remind myself that I should practice the virtue of love as all Christians should.
The question is: ‘How can we remain loyal to St. Paul’s teaching of love?’ The book of Exodus has suggested a hint – Moses’ face had become radiant after he conversed with the Lord.
As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the Lord. When Aaron, then, and the other Israelites saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him. Only after Moses called to them did Aaron and all the rulers of the community come back to him. Moses then spoke to them. Later on, all the Israelites came up to him, and he enjoined on them all that the Lord had told him on Mount Sinai. When he finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. Whenever Moses entered the presence of the Lord to converse with him, he removed the veil until he came out again. On coming out, he would tell the Israelites all that had been commanded. Then the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to converse with the Lord. ( Exodus 34: 29 – 30 )
To converse with the Lord is to pray. Many of us assume that praying is a purely human activity. We think that it is our talking to God. We have forgotten that God also prays in us, for us, and with us. Talking about Jesus’ prayer, St. Augustine said, “He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God.” St. Paul also taught us the Holy Spirit also prays in us, for us, and with us.
The Spirit too helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech. He who searches hearts knows what the Spirit means, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints as God himself wills. ( Romans 8: 26 – 27 )
When we pray, we let the Holy Spirit exert His influence on us so that we can be calm more easily. We let the Holy Spirit bring up the love that the Father has put in the very depth of our soul so that it becomes easier for us to love our neighbours and to forgive those who have offended us.
When we pray, we submit ourselves to our Creator who is so much greater and more powerful than us. He accepts our submission with delight when we pray with the prayer that the Father loves. It is the prayer that we pray with love, reverence, admiration, respect, thanksgiving, and persistence.
When we pray, we let our love to God overflow from our hearts to our lips, or to our mind.
When we pray, we let God do His work in us what He has always wanted to do in us but, due to our iniquities, we never gave Him this opportunity.
When we pray, we put ourselves at the disposition of God. We should let Him do the work regardless of our desires. We should learn from Jesus who said, “If it is possible, let this chalice pass from me. Not my will, but Yours be done.” ( Matthew 26: 39 )
When we pray with persistence, we yield ourselves to God’s transforming power. Slowly, we feel ourselves changed under the influence of prayer. Gradually, we find that our constant prayer has a medicinal property that heals our souls. Our stubbornness, selfishness, anxieties, hatred, depression, fear, anger, jealousy, etc. go away slowly.
When we continue to pray, we discover God begins to act in us. God then becomes our first priority. He becomes the focus of our attention. All kinds of worldly attractions such as wealth, honour, prestige, and fame have lost their luster. We will grow in Christ likeness. We begin to see the image of God in other people.
Numerous saints have experienced the same transforming power such as St. Augustine, Matthew the Evangelist, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Paul.
When we pray, many of us make the mistake of the rooster who thinks that by his crowing he makes the sun rise. In the rooster’s imagination, the sun rises in response to his crow. He mistakenly believes that if one day he forgets to crow, the sun will not rise. The reality is much more beautiful than what the rooster thinks. It is the sun that, at the first streaks of dawn, wakes the rooster so that it crows.
The sun still rises even if the rooster forgets to crow. Likewise, God still loves us if we do not pray to Him, but He always yearns for our love to Him in return. We reciprocate His love by praying to Him.
When we pray, we should not forget that it is God who has given us the precious gift of the ability to pray to Him in the first place. The more we pray, the more we are like Jesus. Having developed an intimate relationship with God through constant praying to Him, Moses had a radiant face, and we will have a radiant heart that is full of love.