Augustine wrote: “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” A wonderful thought—an idea full of wonder.
One way, then, to take a measure of the love of God is to ask myself, “Does God really love me in such a personal and self-sacrificing manner? Does God love me as if I were the only one, even as he loves you so uniquely?”
If I were the only one, would he still go through the bother of the incarnation? Those long months confined to the uterus of Mary, his mother? The messy and perplexing dependency of infancy?
If I were the only one, would he have spent the long years of childhood, learning and growing, step by patience-testing step, enduring the teasing and ridicule of those who questioned the circumstances of his birth and the integrity of his parents? Would he endure the hunger and the thirst and the fatigue and the grief that are part of the human experience? Would he do that for me, if I were the only one?
If I were the only one, would he face the bitterness and inhumanity of the mob, the injustice of a rigged courtroom, the anguish of abandonment and the agony of the long, tortuous execution? Would he do all this for me, if I were the only one?
Would he rise from death and ascend through the clouds with the promise of return and a place for me, if I were the only one?
If I were the only one, would angels have cause to sing? Would the star still rise, guiding me to the Christ child? Would Mary still smile at the Good News she birthed? Would I have reason to shout and laugh and lose myself in praise?
Why, yes, of course. “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”