There are times in our lives when something happens that, as we like to say, “Blows us away.” This American slang expression is a popular way of saying, “I am speechless. I am deeply moved. I cannot explain how I feel or even why.”
For a Christian I believe what “blows us away” is ultimately the deep discovery of God’s eternal love in the most ultimate and life-transforming sense. Anything other than Jesus, and his incarnate and holy love, should never be more important (or truly surprising) to us. Discovering his love again and again, over the course of nearly sixty-five years, has altered my life day-by-day. He has provided, and is now providing, everything for me in Jesus Christ. He continues to amaze me with his love every single day. (In this case this revelation, and the experience that has gone with it, were given to me by the Holy Spirit so all boasting, which Paul exhorts us to do, is in Christ!)
In 1992 when God first spoke to me deeply from John 17:21 he began to show me how he would use the remainder of my life as a distinct witness to the love of Christ. This love would be focused on his prayer for the unity of all who abide in the love of the Trinity. I have been blown away in stages ever since. Several experiences with God profoundly marked me and only recently have I felt the freedom to talk about these in public. These experiences were life-altering and deeply mystical in ways I did not grasp at all twenty-five years ago. I was so trapped in the mind of modernity and rationalism that I resisted what was happening at first but God’s amazing grace prevailed. He kept showing me his love and my need of loving him and others in ways beyond my imagination. In the process he led me to embrace peace and unity no matter where it took me.
Fast forward to November of 2013. I am reading my email in my hotel room in Seattle and a letter is opened with an invitation to receive “The Luminosa Award” (June 22) in New York. This award is being given for my work for Christian unity. This award is given “to persons or associations who have given a significant contribution to building bridges of mutual understanding and concern among the various Christian churches, major faith traditions, and people of good will, in all aspects of social life.”
I was “blown away” by the letter. For several days I felt this had to be a serious mistake, or at least the decision of good people who did not really know me very well. I only told Anita and asked her to pray with and for me. After some days I wrote and expressed my amazement and my sense that this was not quite right. I also said that if my receiving this award could be used to advance the principles of Jesus that I deeply believed then I would accept the award and seek with everything in me to use it to draw more attention to Jesus, his love, our unity and the mission that he has given me with this little seedling called the ACT3 Network.
So, I accepted this invitation and the leaders of the Focolare concurred. I will receive the “Luminosa Award” on June 22. The day before, on Saturday, June 21, I will share in a dialogue on “How We Can Bear Witness to the New Commandment.” This is at the heart of my life’s commitment to unity and it is the soul of my next book, Our Love Is Too Small. (I sincerely hope this text might be at a publishing house by the time of June 21.)
Click here to read the public statement issued about this weekend that is hosted by the Focolare in Hyde Park, NY. Many of you have heard of the Focolare previously. You can learn more about them at their US website.
Finally, if you live in the New York area, or you would like to join me for the third weekend in June, I would be honored beyond words to have you share this time with me and my friends in the Focolare.