Saturday, December 20, 2014

Unto the ages of ages

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
1 John 4:7-10 The Message

All week I have been thinking this one thought, ‘If God is love, what does that make us?’ We have heard the phrase ‘God is love’ and its inverse ‘Love is God’—both in some senses true—that we have gotten used to it, so it doesn’t have the same effect on us that it may have had when we first heard it. ‘Yes,’ we say to ourselves, ‘God is love, but I still have to deal with living in this world, where very little of that love is found. Today, I will just try to do my best.’

My mind wanders into the treasury of my heart, and there I find the jewel box of Fr Evely, where this gem is shining and sparkling its bright, powerful meekness at me, ‘Not seeing enough love anywhere they look, they just love with all their might.’ Never letting us wonder for long who ‘they’ might be, he tells us on the very lid of the jewel box, ‘That man is You,’ and I quietly back away from the glory (of who love is) as carefully as the High Priest of Israel backed away from the Sacred Ark.

‘If God is love, what does that make you?’ again I hear myself pondering. No, don’t press me too hard. Like an overripe fruit I might burst. Without a mirror we cannot see ourselves, but our reflections return to us from other people. I know a saintly woman who seems not to ever stop working, caring for others (even for me) with boundless might. Her husband and only son, both invalids seriously and painfully ill, she is their mainstay and manages everything, thinking herself untalented and unremarkable.

Little does she know that she is a true ikon of the God she serves. Yes, she’s a Christian, a Roman Catholic, but you won’t see her at mass very much. Her love is out working in the world where, as Fr Evely observes, ‘there’s not enough love anywhere,’ and without thinking twice, she just does whatever needs to be done. Her life, she thinks, untheological and barely Christian, because it doesn’t follow the ‘rubrics’ of her catechism. She admires and praises the gifts of others, while unknowing her own.

‘Let us make man in our own image,’ says the Divine Triad, both at the beginning, and in every moment since then until now, ‘and let them have dominion.’ Yes, the Divine Nature, ever One, has even blurred His Oneness without sacrificing His unity by being Three, and from eternity, so that He could be what He has always been—love. Not satisfied to remain ‘God on High’ His love for His creation drew Him down to its depths, where He recapitulated every step in His evolution of the universe in His mother’s womb.

Knowing that we are made ‘in the Image’ we still did not understand what that means—we still don’t, or won’t, but He keeps reminding us, reminding me—so He, the pre-eternal God, became one of us, appearing as a little child. We are familiar with that too from our Christmas hymns. The gospels, which we hear regularly all year long in church services, reiterate that He is love, proven by everything He did for us from the beginning till now. We let ourselves forget that ‘now’ means, ‘right here, right now.’

If God is love, what does that make us? No question can have greater impact than this, when we know the answer. And the answer is not hidden, never was hidden, it’s been before us, individually and corporately, since we came into being. Our being itself is the answer. ‘Let us make man in our own image.’ To know the answer is the revelation of who we are, in Christ. Following that revelation, all human knowledge, all eloquence, pales before ‘the revelation of the sons and daughters of God.’

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8

No, love never ends. How could it? for God is love. Now, made in His image, brethren, let’s be adamant to be what He made us ‘always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

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