A few years ago I was sitting in my friend George's house in East Jerusalem watching Spiderman with his little boy Rafi. George went out to get some shopping and when he came back, Rafi, who was about seven at the time, jumped off the settee and threw himself at his dad. He was so excited to see him that he could hardly get the words out and he kept saying over and over, "Abba, Abba". George dropped the shopping and swept Rafi up into his arms. It was a wonderful moment to watch and drew me again into the reality of the relationship between us and Abba – Father.
At the heart of the Scriptural message is the truth that an infinite God seeks and desires intimacy with the human soul. One of my favourite books is by a Jesuit called Peter McVerry. The book is called Jesus – Social Revolutionary? and in it, he writes: "I believe that Jesus came to tell us only one thing: who God is. He didn't come to tell us about the past or the future, about heaven or hell, just who God is. This was Jesus's charism. He had come from God, he knew God intimately as son of God, and he came to reveal that God to us – God's yearning, God's desire, God's passion."
God's passion is God's children, you and me. God is passionate about us. God's concern is for us. God desires that intimacy with us that our hearts desire. Yet we have created a system which says that some are acceptable to God and some unacceptable. That is not the Gospel. It is a parody of it and yet it is the maxim that most people live by. The God whom Jesus revealed is a God of love. It is when we get off the roundabout and stop trying to earn love that we fall in love with God, that we can do nothing else but love the Lord our God with everything that we are.
Richard Rohr, the Franciscan friar, says: "Once you experience such intimacy, only the intimate language of lovers describes what is going on for you: mystery, tenderness, singularity, specialness, changing the rules 'for me', nakedness, risk, ecstasy, incessant longing, and, of course also suffering." We were created to enter into intimate relationship, to know the passionate desire of God for us and for every human being. My prayer for each of us is that the passionate embrace of God will energise us, free us, and empower us to be good news for the world.