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August 1992

For the Lord trains the ones he loves, and he punishes those he acknowledges as his children. (Heb. 12:6)

This verse is taken from the Book of Proverbs (3:11-12) in which correction by parents is presented not as punishment but as an expression of love seeking the child's true good.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews is addressing some Christians who are in the midst of persecution, and he reminds them of these words to help them see in the trials permitted by God not so much a punishment but the very special love of a father.

For the Lord trains the ones he loves, and he punishes those he acknowledges as his children.

This Word of Life returns to a subject we have already touched on in recent months: the meaning and value of Christian suffering. While in other months, however, we put the emphasis on the various effects of trials - purifying us of our imperfections, testing our faithfulness, making us share in the afflictions of Christ for the salvation of the world - our emphasis this time is on God's very special love for us present in our trials. We see trials here as part of our heavenly Father's providential love, at work in our lives and taking care of each one of us.

For the Lord trains the ones he loves, and he punishes those he acknowledges as his children.

Certainly trials come from the love of God. Nonetheless, this month's Word of Life stresses something else: if we persevere in living Jesus' teachings, and especially in following him by fully accepting with him the experience of trials, then, as well as reaching the goals we have just mentioned, we will discover another aspect of trials, an aspect which is very beautiful and which touches us deeply. We will discover that we are the object of God's love not in a general and impersonal way, as if we were one of a series, but we are the object of a love that is totally personal. It is like the love of a mother or a father for their children, like the love of an artist when all his passion, attention, genius is concentrated on the work of art he is making.

For the Lord trains the ones he loves, and he punishes those he acknowledges as his children.

How shall we live the Word of Life this month? Let's decide to embrace our trials so well that, seeing our heavenly Father's totally personal love in them, we come to an ever more intimate relationship with him.

It is easy to see the love of God the Father in life's wholesome joys, in the beauty of nature he has made, in the spiritual consolations he gives us from time to time and in the material goods which are the fruit of his providence. It is harder to see his love in times of trial. But we are really his children if we believe in his love also and above all in these moments. Should we do so, we would come to be able to see his love in all the details of our life and all of it would be enlightened. We would also discover that all the things he might have allowed to happen in our past are part of a completely personal plan of love for us. Spellbound we would contemplate the wonders he has worked, even though at times he has made use of the extremely painful things permitted to take place. We would see from within that God has guided things with infinite wisdom, drawing good even out of evil. To sum up. we would see in all that he has allowed the path - the most suitable and effective path - chosen by him to further his plan of love for us.

Then a great love for him would grow in our hearts, a deep unity, that unity with him which our being Christians and being committed Christians demands of us.

Let's promise one another once more that we want to live like this.

Chiara Lubich


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