The lives of saints show us that those who strive with effort and perseverance do indeed find the Divine within themselves and around them.
Saint Augustine, when he finally found God within himself, sighed, “Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there …You were with me, and I was not with you”.
The lives of saints show us that those who strive with effort and perseverance do indeed find the Divine within themselves and around them. Many of us, however, wander through this earth, often whiling our time chasing after all kinds of things which, Hinduism rightly describes as “maya” (illusion), and may have little to do with the purpose of our existence.
The catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that God’s purpose in creating us is, “to know Him, love Him and serve Him”. Jesus taught us that God, who always indulges in expressing his unconditional love for us, also keeps a loving gaze on us. God wants us to experience more than just his invisible presence. “… Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you…” affirmed Jesus.
It is this offer of friendship that leaves God no choice but to keep his loving gaze on each of his creatures, a gaze unlike that of a watchman’s detective eyes but that of a doting mother or father. It is like the gaze of the unblinking concern of a genuine friend. Like parents and good friends who do their best without ever expecting anything in return, God’s loving gaze hovers over us only for our good.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, while teaching his followers to pray, would tell them to experience God’s loving gaze at the start of any prayer. This allows us to rest in God’s bosom — the ocean of love. When we entrust ourselves to that gaze, God’s friendship begins to flower in us. And if we do not let the worldly distractions take the better of us, the unconditional love of God begins to gradually but surely envelope us in His loving embrace.
“The Lord on each new day invites us to be present to his gaze, which brings light into our lives. We then move out to our work being consciously aware that he is gazing at us and when evening falls we bring all that the day unfolded back into God’s gaze”, is how a friend experiences God’s gaze in her life.
It is the loving gaze which keeps us away from negative situations, protecting us from physical harm but as well as from spiritual pitfalls and sins. It also goads us gently into deeper friendship with him, resulting in, as Jesus says, “My father and I will come and make our abode in you”.