Love for God and neighbour gains substance, depth and authenticity only if it passes through pain, if it is purified by the cross that Jesus invites us to welcome. But what cross are we talking about? Chiara Lubich’s answer in the following reflection is very precise: each of us has his or her own very particular and personal cross.
[…] “All things God works for good [but] for those who love Him.” (cf. Rom 8,28).
To love God! We certainly do want to love Him. But, when are we sure that we are loving Him? It is not only when we give our hearts to Him in a moment when everything is going well, because that would be easy, and beautiful, but could also be just an enthusiastic reaction or one mixed with personal interest or love for ourselves, and not for Him. We can be certain we love Him if we do so also in adverse situations; furthermore, to guarantee true love for Him, we have decided to prefer Him, above all, in everything that hurts us. To love God in our obstacles and in our pains is always true, sure love. We express this kind of love with the words: to love Jesus crucified and forsaken. […]
But which cross, which Jesus Forsaken, must we desire to love?
Certainly not a vague cross, as if to say: I want to make my own, […] the sufferings of humanity. Not the cross which can be a product of our imagination; for example, dreams of a martyrdom that may never come about.
To be His follower, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to come after me must take up his cross” (cf. Lk 9:23). His personal cross! Therefore, everyone must love their own cross, their own Jesus Forsaken. If, in fact, at a certain moment of our lives, Jesus had appeared before us and because of his great love for us had asked us to follow Him, to choose Him, to — as if to say— to take Him as our spouse, He didn’t intend to manifest Himself to us in just a vague way, but instead in a very precise way. He asked us to embrace Him in all those pains, worries, sicknesses, temptations, in those situations, persons and responsibilities that touch our very person, to the point of being able to say: “This is my cross,” or even better, “This is my Spouse!” All of us have our own personal Jesus Forsaken, which is not the one of our neighbour, nor of anyone else; but really our own.
Therefore, if we learn to read beyond the trauma of our various personal sufferings, and see the love of God for each of us, life becomes magnificent, and draws us ever closer to our Jesus Forsaken, to embrace Him, as the saints have done, and to yearn to see Him transformed in us in our own personal resurrection. […]
In order not to lose any time, each of us can make a brief examination of his or her own present situation, and then decide, with the help of God, to say yes to all those things to which we want to say no, but know are the will of God. […] Let’s get up in the morning with this proposal in our heart: “I will live today for the sole purpose of loving my Jesus Forsaken.” Everything else will fall into place. The Risen Lord will live in each of us and among us. […]
(From a telephonic conference call, 16 August 1984)