Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
"In so far as it is possible to express these things in human terms, we can say that the purest love, love in itself, is, on the one hand, the constitutive form of the divine essence and, on the other, the explanation and cause of operations ad extra: man's creation as lord of the universe, and the return of everything to God in a process of redemption and sanctification". (Pedro Arrupe, S.J.)
“In the beginning God...” There is only God. “God is love.” (1 Jo.4:8) This love of God is the only love there is and the only love there will ever be. We are not creators. We are only receivers and transmitters of the love of God. And we can only transmit as much as we receive.
This love of God is creative. Through the prism of creation this infinite love of God is refracted into an infinite number of finite acts of love. Each human person is an act of the love of God. Our vocation, our duty is to receive this love of God, let it permeate our being and radiate and overflow to others. In other words the vocation of each person is to love and be loved. This is the reason for the First and Second Commandments of God which are the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. (Matt. 22: 36-40) “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom.13:10)
This love is God is also redemptive. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (1 Jo.l-14) This redemptive love of God is made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus is the greatest expression of the love of God and Jesus is the greatest expression of the human reception and transmission of the love of God. To be a Christian is to make this love of God visible in me. I am redeemed by receiving and transmitting this love of God.
This love is faithful; that is, it is full of faith. The immediate object of Christian faith is the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. Jesus is the final and definitive revelation of God. In Jesus, the medium is the message. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:16) All the truths of Christianity are abstracted from the person and the life of Jesus. What you see in the manger in Bethlehem is not a book but a person. The book is all about this person.
This love is hopeful, that is, it is full of hope. Christian hope is not to be confused with natural hope which is so characteristic of our age. Natural hope is man’s confidence in himself, in his own talents, power and energy, and in the material resources at his command. Christian hope is much more realistic. It is built on the realization of our weakness, the limitations of human nature, the manifold difficulties of human life and the absolute necessity of the grace of God. The Christian’s hope is not in himself but in Jesus Christ. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) Hope assures us that we can trust in God with great confidence. So we let go of the past with all of its guilt and failings. We commit the past to the mercy of God. We let go of the future with all of its fears and anticipations. We commit the future to the Providence of God. Now we live in the grace of the present moment. We let go and we let God, “whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.”
Faith, hope and love are mentally distinguishable but practically inseparable. We can distinguish one from another. But in the concrete world of reality it is not possible to have one without the others. In other words, Christian love is a believing, trusting love.
This believing, trusting love constitutes a person a Christian and supplies the inner dynamic from which flows every authentically Christian action. For the Christian, life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived in believing, trusting love. This believing, trusting love produces loving deeds. These loving deeds are a sign that we have this believing, trusting love by which we are saved.
Love is not only our vocation, but love is also our greatest privilege, our highest dignity and our most satisfying joy. Love is the greatest prayer. Prayer is the awareness and the expression of our personal relationship with God. There is no greater, more intimate personal relationship than love. We can pray always, simply by being-in-love, being in love with God.
“God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (1 John 4:16) “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you so you also should love one another.” (John 13: 34) Love is the irrefutable, instantly verifiable sign of Christian identity. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 35) This is how the first Christians were identified, “See how they love one another.” (Tertullian, Apology,39.6) By this criterion would we be recognized as Christians?
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