Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Revelation of Passion

The divine power that Aristotle at the height of Greek philosophy sought to grasp through reflection, is indeed for every being an object of desire and of love —and as the object of love this divinity moves the world—but in itself it lacks nothing and does not love: it is solely the object of love. The one God in whom Israel believes, on the other hand, loves with a personal love. His love, moreover, is an elective love: among all the nations he chooses Israel and loves her—but he does so precisely with a view to healing the whole human race. God loves, and his love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape.
Deus Caritas Est 9

Reflection – Here we touch upon a really significant difference between the world of the Bible and the world of pre-Christian philosophy. It is the nature of God, philosophy tells us, to be perfect, to lack nothing, to possess the fullness of being.
This is indeed true. But the corollary of that is precisely what the Pope describes in Aristotle: we all want God, want this fullness of being, in a sense we cannot help wanting God, although we get very confused about what to do with that desire, to say the least.
We are moved by desire and love towards this divine presence—but He/It does not, cannot reciprocate. God lacks nothing; why would He desire us?
This is where the Bible does not so much contradict human reasoning and philosophy as complete it. We agree that God is perfect, that He lacks nothing, that in no way, shape, or form does God ‘need’ us.
But, and this is a truth that can only be revealed to us, never reasoned towards, He loves us. And this love is not some kind of disinterested thing: ‘well, he gives us being, and this in some form qualifies as ‘love’ in that He wills our existence, blah, blah, blah’.
This is not the God of the Bible. He loves us with a passionate love. His love for us is a desire to be with us, to commune with us, to engage with us in a genuine personal encounter.
I repeat, this can only be known as a revealed truth. There is no way we can reason that the Supreme Being, the One, the Mystery, the Source, the Being behind all being and beings, would have any use for us, any interest in us. Only in the revelation to Israel, completed in the revelation of Christ, and completed there in the awesome Paschal Mystery—only there do we get a glimpse that this Ultimate Mystery is one of fire, passion, intimate love.
And we have to hold together the truth our reason yields – God is perfect and needs nothing – with the truth He has told us about Himself – he is passionately concerned for us and desires us to be in communion with Him. The two held together usher us into a life of awe, gratitude, beauty and joy. The the ground of all being, the source of all, the great I AM, loves us. He loves us. Really??? He loves us, really.

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