Love, the topic of every hour!
Not one topic has occupied humanity as much as the topic of love. It impacts the core of man, it is on the minds of kings, leaders, beggars, and the homeless. Love is on the minds of children, youth and elders, the hermits and sinners, priests and laymen, the heavenly hosts and all of humanity alike. It is the topic of every hour.
Languages fail to express the magnitude of love, whether Divine love, brotherly love, marital love, or pastoral love. Many enemies turned into friends when they were met with sincere and kind encounters.
St. John Saba wished to write about the Divine love that inflames the heart, and when he was unable, he threw his pen away calling out to God to grant people the experience of unconditional love. It is the holy of holies, where the soul tastes the sweetness of the of unity with the true Love, God Himself. St. John Chrysostom often spoke of the Divine and brotherly love, in particular, our love for the poor, needy, and those who resist us. Love is not a trait that the believer possesses, but it is the essence of his whole being. He said that a lamp continues to emit light, and man cannot be content or happy without illuminating with love on others under all conditions.
Many people believe they love God, measuring this love in many ways. The Divine love is measured by accepting it unconditionally, for God loved us when we were enemies that He sent us His only Son to reconcile, and opened His arms to the entire world. From our perspective, we accept His love, not for the temporal or heavenly blessings, but for the rejoicing in the blessing of embracing Him within and nurturing our souls.
True love corrects our view toward God, rather than seeing Him as a means to fulfill temporal goals, we recognize that He is our goal. We recognize His unique Fatherhood, and we become His children. Through love, God manifests Himself through us, providing us company lest we experience isolation. Through love, our hearts are lifted to the heaven and we see it’s gates wide open, realizing our friendship with the heavenly hosts, always accompanied by them.
The loving church’s doors are open to all, the sinners and saints, as it is called by St. John Chrysostom the hospital for healing rather than the courtroom for judging people. It is dangerous for someone not to find room among the believers due to his sins. The church is the icon of heaven, and the Lord of heaven is called the Lover of sinners and publicans. The church is a laboratory that transforms the earth into heaven, the sinners and adulterers into heavenly saints. Christ the Lord’s love for the sinners is not an appeasement to sin, and the church’s kindness does not contradict its assertive stance with those unrepentant who insist on sin. Recall how our Lord rebuked the scribes and pharisees for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23).
The family is a holy church organized by the law of love. If there are many critical considerations in choosing a life partner, the most important one is love. Rather than emotional or physical attraction, talents or abilities, but the love based on the unity in Jesus Christ without ignoring the mental, emotional, and cultural compatibility. Through this true love, one does not marry for beauty, for money, possessions or morals, but appreciate the other person for who they are. Through this encounter neither party should seek to conform the other person to their own mold, but rather accept the other’s different manners, abilities or talents that complements their own. Every member of the Christian family sees Christ the Lord in the other family members, appreciates and honors regardless of age, success or abilities, which transforms the home into a joyful holy church.
When we encounter God, the Lover of mankind, our hearts are enlarged with love for all of humanity, seeking to see all people in the image of Christ the Lord. Through this love, man sees all of mankind as brethren, does not seek physical beauty to satisfy lusts as in Potiphar’s wife love for Joseph. When he refused her attempts, she sent him to jail as her love for him turned into rage and anger proving it was mere selfish lust. Joseph loved her, for when he became the second man in command over Egypt, he did not take revenge from her or his siblings. He said: “You meant evil for me, but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20).
When the believer acquires this new feature, he projects the fruit of the spirit “love, joy, peace…” The love becomes the fruit of the spirit that illuminates with light, as he loves all surrounding him including his enemies and those who resist him. Not compelled to love, but out of the abundance of love provided by the Lover of mankind. “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ (2 Cor 2:15), so how can we offer love to certain people but withhold it from others.
How can we love?
It may appear to be impossible for man to acquire a loving heart in his relationship with God, the church, the family, the society or enemies. This is true, for how could the human nature that fell for pride, and selfishness be capable to love in this manner. The source of this love is God the True Love Himself, for on our own we are unable to love naturally without uniting with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If you desire this, know that you were granted this gift during your baptism, when you became a child of God, but later laced with material siege, and by your own will, your heart collects dust prohibiting any of the light to shine through, and allowing your hunger for revenge to prevail.
A quiet contemplation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, seeking your internal compass, lifting your heart up to grant you the ability to love all people, and dust off the dirt to live by the spirit of God, the spirit of love that illuminates over the good and bad alike. Contemplating over the word of God guided by the Holy Spirit fills up the person with knowledge and wisdom, opens the eyes with hope in turning the enclosed heart into an open heaven holding many rooms for all people.
Author: Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
Translated by: Jackie Youssef, David Hanna