There are three little words without which life hardly seems worth living. If no-one says them to you, and if you don’t say them to someone else, it would be as if your life were cursed, no better than a living death. Those words are: I, love, you.
And it should be no surprise that hearing these words spoken with sincerity is a matter of life and death. For these same three words really define God. I is the Father. You is the Son. Love is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is love. They are a “Love Affair.” They are “Being-In-Love.” Because they are love, they are plural. Because love makes one, they are singular. Their love never ends because it never began. It just is. They are their love. Love is God’s name, his raison d’être, his reason for acting. All God says and does is done from love, done in love and done for love. True love. Not fake “love”, not seductive “love”, but real love. So real, it makes real. So real, it despoils what is not real, i.e. sin. It is a love which makes only pure love and purifies what impurifies love. God is the Divine I-Love-You.
And so, when a husband and wife in the embrace of their married love give life to the flesh of a new human being, at that exact and precise moment the Divine I-Love-You gives life to its soul. At the root of every human being is the double embrace of mother and father and of Trinitarian Love. We are literally hugged into existence, a hug that holds us from that moment forward. And no matter what happens to any of us, no matter what any of us does, the Divine I-Love-You will be there even when the embrace of mother and father must eventually fail.
Tragically, many never hear of the Divine embrace without which they would never have been able to hear anything at all. Even worse, there are those who never have known the embrace, the I-love-you of mother or father and who, for that reason, even if they hear of the I-Love-You of God, they cannot believe it or grasp it. For God depends on us to say I love you to each other in order to prepare us to grasp His overwhelming embrace. Our I love you will give way to His, as the Baptist gave way to the Redeemer. Our I love you is like baptism with water, but His is baptism with Fire and Holy Spirit. We speak our I love you to each other as the Bridegroom’s friend. When the Bridegroom himself comes to say it to his Bride, who is each believing soul, His friend must decrease.
When we turn our gaze to the Crib, we see the first visual, the first picture, of the Divine I-Love-You. For the Word made flesh makes visible and tangible and audible the Trinity’s love for mankind. God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. The Crib begins to visualize that truth. For it will not just be the endearing gurgles of the innocent child who cries out “I love you” from God! It will also be the words and miracles of his public ministry, his “neither do I condemn you” to the woman caught in adultery, his “your sins are forgiven, get up and walk” to the paralysed man, and the many other declarations and cries of truth and love which will fall graciously from his lips. It will be above all the cries of the innocent Lamb of God from the Cross. It will be His “I thirst.” And for what did He thirst if not for us to respond, “I love you, too!” It will be His “Father, forgive them, they know not what we do” in spurning His I-Love-You. It will be the cry, “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit” by which he performs the definitive double act of consummated love towards the Father and towards us.
And if that were not enough, after his Ascension, the act by which for the first time as man he stands before the Father and cries to Him, “I Love You”, he leaves us powerful signs that his I-Love-You continues on earth. What signs? “I baptize you in the Name of the Divine I-Love-You, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” “I absolve you from all your sins in the Name of the Divine I-Love-You, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” So divinely obsessed is He with eliciting from us a response that he takes on and away all our sins so that we can no longer have any excuse for refusing to respond to him in kind. And His madness knows no limit when He says, “This is my Body given for you. This is my Blood poured out for you.” It’s as if he’s saying, “what more can I do for you to prove to you that I-Love-You? What else can I possibly give away? What more can you possibly demand?”
So, please, in his Name, I beg of you on this Holy Night: do not ever say or think or suspect, “no-one loves me”, “no-one cares about me”, “I’m no use”, “I’m a waste of space”, “my sins are too many or too bad.” Listen to yourself if you say such things and be agahst! I ask you: is it reasonable even to think or imagine them in light of the Divine Embrace of your very being? Can it be grateful or sane to imagine such things in the face of the Crib, the Cross and the Tabernacle? Is His Divine I-Love-You which gave origin to your existence, and holds it in existence, to be subjected to your bad moods and complexes? Don’t you see that it is the reason why you can simply let them go?
I have put a single yellow rose at the Crib, another at the Cross and another at the Tabernacle. It can either be a sign of His “I-Love-You” to you, or of your “I love you, too” to Him. I would love it to be both. The choice is yours. But, let me ask you in all honesty: can you truly celebrate Christmas or even use the word with a straight face if, having understood even a little of what I have been saying, you do not respond to him, “and I love you, too, my beautiful God”?
One final thought. In the strength of your “I love you, too” to the Lord, and when you go home today, say it as well to those around you. Don’t presume others, even your closest, know that you love them. Tell them you do. Sure, actions speak louder than words, but we are rational beings, too. We need to hear it said. Those little three words can be difficult to say without tearing up. They can be difficult words to hear without feeling deeply emotional. But, once that barrier is over, they are words that can make you tremble with joy and lift from your deepest soul the shadows of doubt and uncertainty you may nurture about yourself and your life. So, be courageous! If you say those three little words, there is no doubt whatsoever that you will have a truly Happy Christmas. The Divine I-Love-You will shine over your homes brighter than any Star of Bethlehem.