“Their father’s kiss. It’s their daily bread. If only they knew what it meant to their father.”
–Charles Peguy, Portal of the Mystery of Hope, p. 32
One of the huge shifts in my understanding of God (and my understanding of prayer) occurred many years ago when I read some advice from Mother Teresa. She said we should pray,
“Jesus, love me.”
I was used to the idea that God loves me. I was familiar with trying to recognize where God loves me in my daily life, you know, the signs of his love. I knew about a more formal request, like “God, please show me where you are in my life.” I had not before prayed in quite this tender and personal way to ask for Jesus to love me. I would not have thought of praying this way on my own because, well, we’re supposed to know that Jesus already loves us. I mean, we’ve been singing the affirmation, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” since the time we were toddlers.
Asking, “Jesus, love me” indicates vulnerability. Beyond that, it expresses the relationship of our spiritual childhood to the Father. Like a little child coming to Mom or Dad for a hug or a kiss: That child knows Mom or Dad will give them the hug. They don’t ever doubt that Mom or Dad wants to give them the hug.
Peguy stretches the image even further by considering how much the “father’s kiss” means, not just to the child, but also to the Father. Asking “Jesus, love me” is important to us; we need the love of God to sustain us in our pain, challenges, worries. We need to ask for the love of God to heal our wounds and make us better able to love others. Asking “Jesus, love me” is also important to God and allows him to pour his love over us in an even greater way. He respects our free will, and he loves to be invited to love us with a greater closeness and tenderness.
This Advent, let’s try praying the simple prayer, “Jesus, love me,” and open our hearts to receive the love he is so ready to give.