Today’s post was shared by Amy Kulesa, the Director of the Sisters of Bon Secours Associates. Amy is a frequent retreat presenter at our Center too and will be with us for a special Advent weekend retreat in December. You can learn more about it by clicking here. Now, let’s take a few quiet moments to read these words from Henri Nouwen about God’s love.

Knowing God’s heart means consistently, radically, and very concretely to announce and revealHenri Nouwen, blog that God is love and only love, and that every time fear, isolation, or despair begin to invade the human soul this is not something that comes from God. This sounds very simple and maybe even trite, but very few people know that they are loved without any conditions or limits.

This unconditional and unlimited love is what the evangelist John calls God’s first love. “Let us love,” he says, “because God loved us first” (1 John 4:19). The love that often leaves us doubtful, frustrated, angry, and resentful is the second love, that is to say, the affirmation, affection, sympathy, encouragement, and support we receive from our parents, teachers, spouses, and friends. We all know how limited, broken, and very fragile that love is. Behind the many expressions of this second love there is always the chance of rejection, withdrawal, punishment, blackmail, violence, and even hatred. . . .

The radical good news is that the second love is only a broken reflection of the first love and that the first love is offered to us by a God in whom there are no shadows. Jesus’ heart is the incarnation of the shadow-free first love of God.

By Henri Nouwen