First Sunday of Lent. “Catholic Atheist” Week 1: We believe in God, but we are not sure that he love
This weekend we begin a Lenten series which is all about the disconnect between what we believe and profess, and how we live and act. Sometimes we say that we believe in God, but in our words, our actions, or our attitudes, we behave like atheists, who don’t really believe in the God of the Bible, the God that the Church professes. This first week is about believing that God truly loves us, and moving faith from our heads to our hearts. St. Paul is very direct, clear, and specific when he says to the Romans: For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). “Helpless” means that we can do nothing to save ourselves; and “ungodly” here means utterly separated from God and spiritual things. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (5:7-8). In our sinfulness we behave as enemies of God, yet Christ died for you and for me, not just in the abstract, but in an intensely personal way. God truly loves us – and he shows this love through the cross. In another place in Scripture, Paul gets to the heart of the matter when he prays for the Ephesians: That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). May our prayer this week be that we come to know this reality – not just in our heads, but in the depths of our inner being. This week, just repeat, “Jesus died for me,” especially when you’re feeling down. May this fact move from our heads to our hearts. Questions for Small Groups:
Who is one person you know without a shadow of doubt loves you? Why do you have confidence in his/her love?
On a scale of 1-10, how certain in the depth of your heart, are you sure of God’s love for you today? Why do you answer as you do?
What circumstances or thoughts cause you to question or doubt God’s love for you?
Why is it vital for healthy relationship with God to have a deep faith in his love for us?
What images come to your mind when you hear “helpless?” How did that describe our standing before God?
Read out loud Ephesians 3:17-19. What is Paul praying for us to have? Why is that important?
How will you keep God’s love in your mind this week?