The discovery that God is Love was for her and for her first companions, right from the beginning of the Movement, something so totally new that it produced a kind of inner conversion.
Chiara therefore discovered not a distant God, who is inaccessible and unknown, but God as a Father and consequently that relationship between heaven and earth that unites us as children to the Father and brothers and sisters among us. God therefore close to us as Father, a Father who watches over the life of each one of us and the life of the whole of humanity. Everything that happens is therefore seen as the realization of his plan of love for each one, as a tangible proof of his watchful gaze, of his near presence. “Even the hairs of your head are numbered” (Mt 10:30).
It is a paternal love that provides for all our needs, even the smallest, to fill the gaps left by our imperfections, our shortcomings, our sins. It is the face of a merciful Father who – through the incarnate Son – manifests himself, who fully reveals his love through mercy.
A classic example is the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15: 11-32). In June 1999, Chiara was able to give this parable as an example to a large meeting of young people gathered in Paderborn Cathedral in Germany). […] “The father of the prodigal son had much to do: he had to administer the farm, the workers, and to look after the family; but he lived totally in expectation of his son’s return. He would climb into the tower of his house and looked out into the distance. This is how, young people, we can imagine the Heavenly Father: whilst the divine and dynamic Trinitarian life belongs to him, whilst he sustains creation and assigns places to those who go to Heaven, yet he gives priority to one thing: he waits. Who? We, me, you, especially if we have distanced ourselves from Him.
One fine day, the parable recounts, that son whom the earthly father loved so much, squandered everything and came back. His father rushes to embrace him, he endows him with precious garments, puts the ring on his finger, prepares the fat calf for the party.
What does this say to us? That he wishes to see his son new, and not what he had become. Not only does he want to forgive him, but he even goes so far as to forget his past. This shows his love for him expressed in the parable. This is the love of the Father for us throughout our life: he forgives and forgets”.
Chiara continues: “I recently saw a documentary […] which presented and examined in detail a famous painting by Rembrandt which depicts the Father of the Gospel narrative welcoming the prodigal son. It is beautiful in all its details. But what is most striking is way the hands of the Father are placed on the shoulders of the son kneeling in front of him: one depicts a strong hand, like that of a man, while the other is finer, like that of a woman. Through this image the artist wanted to convey the love of the Father as being both paternal and maternal. And this is how we must think of it too. ”
Source: Alba Sgariglia, Chiara Lubich Centre, Rome, 14 May 2016.