Love of God leads to participation in the justice and generosity of God towards others. Loving God requires an interior freedom from all possessions and all material goods: the love of God is revealed in responsibility for others… Christ died for all. To live for him means allowing oneself to be drawn into his being for others.
Spe Salvi 28
Reflection – This brief passage, which is from a paragraph of the encyclical that I’ve already blogged about, is a succinct little teaching on love of God and neighbor. To love God – what does that mean, anyhow? It’s not the same thing, exactly, as love of neighbor. My neighbor has needs; God doesn’t. My neighbor is visible; God isn’t. What is this love of God?
To love is to want what your beloved wants, so far as it is truly good. To love God is to want everything God wants, since He is Goodness Itself. To love God, then, is to obey God. To love someone is to desire to be with them, to be one with them. To love God is to want to be with Him, to be one with Him. To love God, then, is to worship God, to come into His presence and unite ourselves to Him by our total gift of ourselves to Him (which can only happen by his gracious gift).
But this unity and love ushers us into truly living with God. This obedience ushers us into truly living as God lives, and this is the life of love of neighbor. To care for God above all means caring relatively little, if at all, for material goods. To live with God is to share in his life, and his life is most clearly seen in the life and death of Jesus, a pattern and substantial reality of life and death made available to us because he rose from the dead, ascended to the Father, and sent his Holy Spirit into our hearts.Love of God means putting ourselves at his disposal, and his disposal of us is to pour ourselves out daily in love of one another. And this is the whole structure of Christian ethical life: total surrender to God in love leading to total gift of ourselves to the other, regardless of who they are and how we ‘feel’ about them, a dynamic of love, surrender, and gift made possible to us by our faith and union with Jesus Christ. That’s the Gospel.