Monday, August 29, 2016

The Love of God

I wish to speak of the mercy of God.

God has loved each one of us with a love that is greater than what we are, greater than what we will be, greater than hell, greater even than creation itself. For his love is himself.

God does not love us inasmuch as we are powerful, or good, or in control, or able to repay his love. God loves us precisely as nothing. For we are nothing.

Hence, there is no shame, no futility, no sin, no darkness, no confusion, no lack, that the love of God has not already embraced and enfolded.

God loved us in creating us—that is, in causing us to be precisely as beloved, as the nothingness that is beloved. By loving us, he has created us, and caused us to be. We are in his love, and only in his love.

Hence, there is no more stable foundation for life and action and thought and indeed existence than the love of God. It is this, and not any necessity or chance, that is the cause of all things.

Yet this is simply the order of creation. It does not exhaust the order of grace, which is greater.

The love of God for us according to the order of grace is one with his love for us in creation, but also above it. It is its revelation, its end, and its fulfillment. God created us so as to redeem us. The act of redemption is, truly, greater than the act of creation, in the sense in which the end always exceeds the means and goes beyond it.

The evil of sin is greater than any ordinary lack, because it is something which exists derivatively, yet ought not to. Or rather, it is something which exists because of God's love, yet opposes it. Hence, it opposes its own rationale for existence—hence, it ought not to be.

God has loved us in such a way as to embrace and enfold even sin, since in a sense sin is a greater darkness even than the darkness of nonbeing from which he called us forth in creating us. God loves us as nothing—but so great was his love that he desired more than this. He desired to love us, not merely as nothingness, but even as sin.

It is this which the Cross creates and makes effectual. The Cross is the fulfillment of all things—it is both the end and the beginning of creation. It is renewed in every sunset, and in the turning of the seasons, and in the smallest atom.

In the Cross, God makes his love to be both evil and nothingness, and yet remain love. God makes himself to be sin, and yet the love of Father and Son, the love that is God, is neither diminished nor threatened, but rather fulfilled. This is the answer to our fears, and our doubts, and all of our uneasiness. For God has loved us in himself, and in his love, precisely as sin, precisely as that which is opposed to love, that which ought not to be.

He who knew not sin, for our sakes became sin. Hence, we, who are sin, have nothing to fear from God.

This was done, however, for this purpose: that we, who are sin, might become love. That we, who are nothingness, might become God.

This is a great mystery; but the mystery of creation and redemption does not merely go to the depths, but to the heights as well. For God, in creating us and in redeeming us, causes us to be truly, as he is. Our dignity in God, which is founded upon the Cross, is not to be constrained by any earthly category, or likened to any earthly good. What we shall be has not been revealed to us.

This, though, we know—that we are the spouses of God. There is a kind of equality which is created between the soul and God, an equality such as two persons bear for one another when bound by ties of love. The mystery of redemption is a love story, in the truest sense. This is not a metaphor, but rather a sacrament, that is to say, a mystery containing and making effectual what it signifies.

The history of redemption is a process by which God becomes, not merely our creator, but our spouse. In our creation, God makes us to be, to share in his being, and hence to be like him. In the Incarnation, though, God becomes, in a true sense, our equal and fellow in humanity, and even in nonbeing—since he is now both creator and creature. In the Cross, Christ makes himself our equal in misery and darkness, suffering and sin—nay, he makes himself even our inferior, so that we might lower ourselves to him, as he has lowered himself to us, pity him as he has pitied us, love him as he has loved us. The Resurrection is the fulfillment, which is greater than we can comprehend. We cannot begin to understand what it is in this life, or on this earth. We first must die with him, before we can understand what it is to rise with him.

The Paschal Mystery, though, is one and the same thing. It is the consummation of the marriage of the soul with God. We suffer and die with him, and so we rise with him—it is all one thing. Cross leads to Resurrection as conception leads to birth, or light to illumination. The suffering passes away, but the love remains, and is perfected and made manifest. To see Christ raised is to see divine love in its fulfillment and perfection—the union of all of creation with the Godhead in love, in the manner of two persons joined in marriage, in the manner of the Persons of the Trinity with one another.

All of this is a reflection, a glorification, a communication, of the eternal love of the Persons of the Trinity for one another. It is an infinite love, a love that is beyond all categories and conceptions and barriers and all darkness. It encompasses darkness and separation and nonbeing, and it creates a unity that is greater than the unity of a creature with its own self. The Father is not the Son; the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father. This is the only mystery—this is the only reality, the only truth, the only certainty. This is the mystery of God, which we shall all partake of for all eternity, and never exhaust.

God is good; for he has created us so as to partake of this love, and to reflect it. He has loved us as he loves the Father, so that he and the Father and their love might be glorified. That the love of the Father for the Son, the love of the Holy Spirit, might be made manifest, he loved even nothingness—so great is his love for the Father. In loving us, who are not, and making us to be his equals and fellows, he loves the Father—and in loving us even in our nonbeing and sin, the Father loves the Son—and this is the work of the Spirit. We are all the works of the divine love; we are all the love story which the Father and the Son and the Spirit have told, together, to glorify their love— as lovers write poems and stories of love, not to diminish or add to their love, but merely to reflect it dimly as in a glass— as Tolkien was Beren and Edith Luthien, forever.

This is the goodness of God—not that we loved God, not that we were or are anything at all, but that God has loved us, and given himself to us. For this is what creation is; that God should give being, which is himself, to us, who are not. It is in this giving that we live, and move, and have our being. This, too, is what redemption is; that God should so love the world as to give to us his only Son, who is his very self, his beloved, who is closer to him than we are to ourselves.

How, then, ought we to live? Not in fear, not in darkness, not in nothingness, but in and on the love of God. This alone is our duty; to receive the love of God. This, then, is our duty—to accept the love of God precisely as encompassing our very darkness and nothingness and futility and lack, in all its manifestations, and even our sin and evil, in all its manifestations. This is the work of redemption for which we must labor all the days of our lives.

This is the foundation of our days and our nights, our eating and drinking, our resting and labor. That in all these things—even in the most trivial of matters, even in the most confused or confusing or unreal or false or wicked—God has loved us. That in our neighbor who is wretched, or weak, or evil, Christ has made himself manifest, so that we might lower ourselves to him as he to us. That God has loved us, and that we are creatures, not of his wrath, nor of his indifference, but of his love.

There is nothing which we must do, nothing which we must say, nothing which we must think—except that in all these things we live and act and say and think in and for the love of God. If we live on this strong foundation, then we shall possess heaven on earth.

What shall we fear, since God has loved us? Yet even in our fear, God has loved us. How shall we be proud, since God has loved us? Yet even in our pride, God has loved us. How shall we not be, how shall we sin, how shall we be evil, since God has loved us? Yet even in our nothingness and sin and evil, God has loved us.

God does not love by any finite measure. God loves by the measure of his own self. Trust in him, and he will not abandon you, even in the depths of hell itself.

Jesu, credo in te.

No comments:

Post a Comment