January 14, 2009

Divine Love and Human Love

"The fundamental and universal law of creation is divine love, made flesh in Christ.... No matter how dark things may be, there is no darkness that can blot out the light of Christ." (from Catholic World News)

We are incomplete - imperfect images of God. As St. Paul wrote, we see now in a mirror darkly - we see just a faint reflection of God when we look in the mirror, when we look at ourselves.
It makes perfect sense, then, that we find it extremely difficult to understand why and how God loves. Our love is an imperfect image of God's love.

When we read the Old Testament, we have a hard time seeing a loving God in many of His actions. The Old Testament is filled with death. Just to cite one familiar example, consider the final plague visited on Egypt before the exodus. I suspect most of us become incensed when we think about it very long. How could God kill all those innocent children - all of the first born?
Yes, there is something symbolic in the sacrifice of a first-born son. Abraham was willing to do it for God, and later, God Himself does it for us.

Focusing entirely on that as an explanation makes God seem cruel. He could kill all those first-born, which for a young couple could mean their only infant, for literary effect?
We have trouble with these deaths because we are pale images of God's love; we don't see things easily from His perspective. Death is only loss to us here on earth. Each death takes something away from us as an earthly race. (John Donne wrote famously about this, saying "no man is an island".)

Death is not loss to God, however. Death is a homecoming. When I travel from work to home in the evening, my company has lost me - I am dead in a way - yet my wife has gained me back. I was looking at her picture on my desk all day. I was emailing and talking on the phone. But now, now I am face to face, and that is a good. In death, God brings the worthy home to Himself, to see face-to-face instead of that pale reflection. From His perspective, the dead have simply left their earthly work and come home, the banquet set and a room ready in their Father's house.

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