Luke 12:13-21, Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola
I first saw these four letters during my grade school days at the Ateneo. Most of the students would write the letters, together with a cross, on top of their answer sheets, essays, or even some homework activities. It was an unsaid tradition that was passed on from one generation of learners to the next. Jokingly, some would say that it was their lucky charm to score a higher rating. But at the heart of each learner, the writing of the letters was an offering. Everyone knew what it meant, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam – For the Greater Glory of God! To write those letters meant a certain belongingness to the group. To write those letters meant a certain commitment of giving it your best shot.
Little do we realize that the AMDG is but a response. It is a grateful response to the reality that God loves us first – a reality that may be difficult to accept. Sometimes it may be hard to understand that we are lovable. Imagine, with all our quirks and imperfections, God continues to whisper to us in so many ways the words, “I love you very much.”
Some are not able to hear these words because they have been blocked by trauma or hate. Some may be able to encounter the same words but because of the anxieties of life, these whispers are flooded out. Others, however, pay attention to such moments of assurance that as they dwell on these and go deep in its appreciation, they are able to hear.
“O, that today you would listen to His voice! Harden not your hearts.”
Upon hearing these assuring words of love, one may choose to give a deaf ear, a hard heart, or maybe a cold denial. Or, as we become witness to God’s love, we acknowledge it by giving thanks. It may be a small thank you, a silent smile, or even a personal response of gratitude of a well meant AMDG. It is a response that is said in freedom. As God’s love is given to everyone, AMDG is a response for everyone as well. It is a shared gift for those who give witness to the loving God in the day to day journey that we take.
To prepare for the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, which we also celebrate this Sunday, I asked a couple of people what AMDG meant for them. One teacher mentioned that it meant being ready to choose to work and give his best in his craft even if the pay was not as rewarding if he were in another line of work. A student pointed out that what it meant for him was looking for ways that he can better be of service to others.
A Muslim student even explained the similar value of the words of “Allahu Akbar” (God is the Greatest) to AMDG. She said that the true meaning of the Arabic words is not like what is presented in media and as what is shouted by extremists who misuse the words to take the lives of others. She mentioned that it is witnessing to God who is merciful, compassionate and loving – that such an expression is mentioned many times in one’s daily life. I was very much impressed by this as there are common things that Muslims and Christians can agree upon and work together with. Instead of looking at differences, we may even be asked to look into what is common in our faiths and move into areas of dialogue and peace!
Such a sharing reminded me of scene in the movie, Ignacio de Loyola, when the saint was explaining the relevance of the two wolves (lobos) and the hanging pot (ola) from his family’s seal.
“It was only when the two wolves worked together did they finally get their fill. We are a Church of opposites: of passion and humility, action and contemplation. Each has its powers and principles, and each has its dangers. Only when these forces face each other in balance can the full grace and bounty of life be ours.”
May we live our daily lives gratefully as we seek to understand that God loves us first – without any strings attached. God’s love is not earned, not bought, and even not traded. It is a gift freely given. Oftentimes, we might have to come to the realization that we are just to accept it!
May we be able to respond with a grateful heart so that in having that felt knowledge that we are loved and graced, we may also be able to love the best way we can. This makes us fully alive – for the greater glory of God!
May the prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola always remind us that God’s love and goodness suffice.
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will.
All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.”
This homily originally appeared in the Philippine Star