“God is love,
and he who abides in love abides in God,
and God abides in him”
(1 Jn 4:16)
Deeply concerned with the distorted God image linked with punishment, violence, hatred and even vengeance, our Holy Father begins his first Encyclical with this powerful profession of our Christian faith that God is love.
Deus Caritas Est consists of two parts
The Unity of Love in Creation & Salvation History (No. 2-18)
‘Love’ is one of the most used and abused words. From its many meanings, emerges a model of love par excellence, which the Greeks termed ‘eros’: the love of a man and a woman.
Eros which is designed and implanted in human nature by our Creator needs discipline, purification and growth in maturity to convey its original dignity so as not to degenerate into erotic sex. It also traces the Biblical development of the concept of love from eros to agape (sacrificial love). Eros can uplift human beings in ecstacy towards God.
Caritas – The Practice of Love as a “Community Of Love” (No. 19-39)
Love of neighbour is based on God’s love and the entire faith community is to reflect God’s Trinitarian love. The early Christian community lived by it and organised itself for charity.
The diaconate is born out of this ministry that has become an essential part of the life of the community. The identity of the community lies in its three inseparable roles:
- Proclaims God’s Word
- Celebrates the sacraments
- Participates in the Ministry of Charity
But towards the 19th century this notion of ‘charity’ was challenged on the grounds of justice and as a means to maintain the status quo by Marxism.
As humans, whether married or not, we all need to be loved and to love. In fact, we actually need more love than we deserve, because God loves us into existence.
This love of God is permanent. It does not depend on us or our behaviour because God is love. Since we all exist out of God’s love we cannot earn or merit it. Nor can we make God love us more because God’s love is unconditional.
And it is this permanent and unconditional love that transforms us, as St Paul, testifies, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
The Family as Expressions of God’s love
This unconditional love occurs in concrete shape, and the clearest human expression of God’s Love in our world today is the family.
In the family God’s love brings forth, sustains and nurtures life. The family, in all its flaws and imperfections, is where God fulfills our human need for love.
It is also within the family that God’s love enables each and every member to discover and realise their worth. Being made with love, we need to be accorded with this same love so as to grow and to live fully.
Even within the family God’s love takes on different expressions:-
- The love union between husband and wife
- The love of parents for their children and vice versa,
- The love of the family towards relatives, friends in school, church and society.
It is within the family ambience that we discover and realise our identity. None can discover our identity alone. We need another person to accept and behold us. For our well being God freely gives us the gift of the human family.
Does it occur to me that…
- I can never earn or deserve God’s Love!
- I can never make God love me more or love me less!
- I am being loved simply because God is Love!
- My marriage and my family are concrete expressions of God’s love.
- God has chosen and empowered me to share his love with my spouse and children.