So how can we come to know the love of God in our lives and in the lives of those around us? I start with the understanding that God is, Himself, love. God is love. And in a sense, all love is God’s love and all love has its source, its ultimate source, in the heart of God. As the ancient hymn reminds us, ‘Wherever love is, God himself is there.’ So we see God’s love all around us in the lives of those that we know, in their compassion, in their generosity, in their giving, in their acts of love and kindness, the way that they care for other people. It is all God’s love even though it is coming through those individuals.
Even more immediately, we can come to know God’s love within ourselves because we too, like the people we admire and appreciate, we, too, are instruments of God’s love. We are Christ’s hands in the world, as it were. So God’s love is something that’s alive and present and active in and through us and so recognizing that in our giving, in our generosity, in our compassion, in our loving kindness and care for others, that that’s God living and active and working through us and through our lives. Some of us are very good at making confessions, making a list of our failings and our sins.
But sometimes I wonder if we are not very good at recognizing the good that we do and maybe we need some kind of sacrament, a confession of good deeds. A confession of the ways in which Christ’s love has been active and manifested in our own lives, in and through us. And so I think this is important to consider in a Rule of Life because a Rule of Life, of course, will include some kind of reasonable, healthy self-care plan, some ways to make sure that we are healthy in ourselves. But it also will include some opportunities for serving others and for some plan for giving to others so that Christ’s love can be manifest in and through us, and in an intentional way. I think it is a very important part of making our lives livelier still.
Br Mark Brown SSJE
Brother Mark, a Religious of the Anglican Society of Saint John The Evangelist, writes of ‘The great love of God as revealed in the Son’, that is at the heart of the Cosmos, and that ought to be at the heart of the Church and the body of Christ, that was brought into being by the self-sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
On the religious internet blogs nowadays, especially when ideas such as ‘Same-Sex Blessings’ are being discussed – as they are in ACANZP, as our Archbishops are preparing us for this possibility in our own Church – there seems to be an over-emphasis on the ‘Wrath of God’ school of theology, that seems to forget that God’s love towards God’s human children is absolutely paramount.
What seems to have been forgotten, in the uproar about the ‘propriety’ of permanently committed same-gender relationships, is that these are not only (in some case, not even) about sex. They can be also – as in heterosexual marriage – more about love and devotion, commitment, and a desire to remain faithful to one’s chosen partner on a permanent basis. Surely this is preferable to promiscuous relationships that are primarily selfish, and nothing to do with commitment? This is true for intrinsically gay people, as well as the majority of people, whose sexuality is intrinsically binary. One cannot choose one’s basic sexual orientation. One can only choose to order one’s given sexual orientation as best one is able – in ways that conform with the individual conscience and, for a Christian. one’s spiritual calling.
In all of this, one needs to remember that agape love (such as God exercises towards all people God has created) already covers a multitude of sins – and, therefore; sinners, of whom we are all participants. What constitutes sin is most often that which offends against God’s loving care and provision for all creation. In St.Paul’s list of God’s gifts in creation, he emphasises love as being the most perfect of gifts, which, by far, exceeds that of any other of the spiritual gifts: “Though I speak with the tongues of angels, but am without love, I am worth nothing!”
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand