GOD IS LOVE
We hear the Holy Scriptures and the hymns of the Church acclaim that God is love. How is this to be understood? Does God love those who love Him? Does God love those who hate Him? Does God love those who crucified Him? Does God love the worst of sinners? The answer is inevitably yes, for God loves everyone, excluding no one, and He commands us to love those who hate us especially our persecutors and enemies.
Love means the bestowing of all the good one has upon his beloved. All the good God has is in himself for he is alone is good and the lover of man. Love cannot be found in matter but in persons capable of requiting that love. For this reason God not only gave himself as a ransom for us, but he continually gives himself to us as food and drink in the Eucharist. Although He is God and the Creator, He offers himself to us as food and drink desiring to elevate us to be a god like Him. What unspeakable love! What a beautiful God is our God! How can we not be grateful and continuously give Him our deepest gratitude?
Some may ask, why then does the Psalmist say, “Heap evils upon them Lord, heap evils upon them?” And again: “Have I not hated those who hate you, Lord, I have hated them with perfect hatred” How did God instruct the Hebrews in the Law to love your neighbor and hate your enemy?
It is never the person that is the object of hate; it is what they believe and do. Heap evils upon them, that they may learn by these evils to stop what they are doing, this then is instructional and not only punitive. The hatred is not a hatred that opposes love, it is hatred of their thoughts, actions and behavior. When a robber repents and stops robbing, he is no longer a robber. When a harlot repents and becomes chaste, she is no longer a harlot. In relationship to God both become his son and daughter equal with those who never robbed or committed harlotry. When an enemy becomes a friend he is no longer an enemy. For God loved them whether they did evil or good.
The only way we can understand God’s love, is by our own repentance and return to His love, and experience the great forgiveness and love of God for us sinners. Why for sinners? Because they are able to receive the love of God, realizing that they do not deserve it, while those who consider themselves as being good and just, cannot possibly experience or know the love of God. For being wise in their own conceits, they look down on sinners, and exalt themselves. In such condition, they cannot experience or know the love of God. We see this in the parable of the blind man.
Christ healed the man blind from birth, with His spittle and soil, and told him to wash in the pool of Siloam. He did what he was told and came back with sight. He was questioned by the Pharisees, who learned for certain that Christ had restored his sight. They thoroughly investigated the matter, going to his parents, asking them is this your son whom you say was born blind. They had no doubts whatever. Then they questioned, as judges, the former blind man. After hearing him, and his defense of Christ, they could not possibly deny that Christ had given him sight. So what did they do? They called Christ a sinner as a breaker of the Sabbath by healing on that holy day! The blind Pharisees were darkened by their own blindness, for in their souls they exalted themselves denounced the blind man as being “altogether born in sin”, and the Son of God as a lawbreaker!
What did the Pharisees lack? They knew the letter of the law, and kept it, but totally ignored the spirit of the law. That is where love nestles in the spiritual aspect of the law, for the law coming from God, is filled with His love. The Pharisees could not love either Christ or the blind man, for whom they ought to have celebrated and jumped with joy, yet they were grieved at his healing, and were destitute of love. After this event, Christ still loves both the blind man whom he healed and the proud Pharisees as well, for God’s love extends to every living person.
Does this mean that because God loves unrepentant murderers, thieves, drunkards, harlots and adulterers, that without repentance they will enter the kingdom and eternal life? Not possible, for without following the law of God, no one can enter the Kingdom. The beginning of the law is obedience and fear of God, and the end of the law is love for God and man. If we do not become the likeness of God as well as His image, we will not have the love of God in us. Christ is our example and His life is the life we have to live. This is the life of humility, meekness, holiness and love which of course includes total obedience to the will of God, without which we cannot really acquire divine love. We must acquire all the virtues, such as faith, hope and love, humility, meekness and holiness, and we are taught by St. Paul, that in the end love will prevail.
God’s law instructs what we believe, what we think, what we desire and what we do. We also believe and preserve all the traditions handed down to us; we must think only good thoughts and never evil, we must do only good works, all out of love for God, for man and for all creation, remembering always that God is love. The purpose of the law is to guide and teach us to ascend toward particular goal. That is why we begin with obedience to God, which changes to our free choice, and fear which transforms into love, which never ends.