By Joseph  Mazzella

As a boy I was always small for my age. I was also five years younger than one of my brothers and seven years younger than the other. As a result I often felt left out when their friends came over to play. I was either too small or too young for whatever they were doing and they didn’t want their younger brother listening in on their conversations either. More often than not I found myself outside playing alone and feeling forgotten.

I remember one spring afternoon feeling especially lonely as I sat in the yard behind our house. We lived miles from town and I rarely saw my own friends outside of school. I heard my brothers laughing from inside the house and felt a single tear coming down my cheek. At that moment I saw a large, shaggy, brown dog walking over to me. His face was panting happily and his tail was wagging as well. Even though he didn’t know me he greeted me like a long lost friend, licking my chin and sitting beside me on the spring grass. It must have been at least an hour that I petted and talked to this four-legged angel. He let me pour out all my troubles and share my deepest thoughts before he kissed my cheek goodbye and ambled off either to Heaven or his home. I went back inside feeling happy, knowing that no matter what life may hold I was loved. Now over 40 years later I still remember that furry angel with a smile. I believe that God sent him in that moment of sadness to remind me just how much He loved me.

In truth, nothing brings us greater joy than knowing we are loved. Knowing we are loved gives us the strength to love others as well. Knowing we are loved helps us to be the people God meant for us to be. Knowing we are loved aids us in making Earth more like Heaven. Remember then, just how much God loves you. Embrace that love. Take joy in it. Welcome it into your heart. And then go out and share your own love with the world.