Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Christian Heritage - August 3 - Why Do We Love Our Neighbor?

"What is our reason for loving God? God himself is the reason we love him; we love him because he is the supreme and infinite goodness. What is our reason for loving ourselves? Surely because we are the image and likeness of God. And since all men and women possess this same dignity we love them as ourselves, that is, as holy and living images of the godhead. It is as such that we belong to God through a kinship so close and a dependence so lovable that he does not hesitate to call himself our Father, and to name us his children. It is as such that we are capable of being united to him in the fruition of his sovereign goodness and joy. It is as such that we receive his grace and that our spirits are associated with his most Holy Spirit and rendered, in a sense, sharers in the divine nature.

As Jacob saw that the same ladder touching heaven and earth was used by the angels both for ascending and descending, so we can be sure that the same charity cherishes both God and our neighbor, raising us even to spiritual union with God, and bringing us back to loving companionship with our neighbors. It must always be understood, however, that we love our neighbors for this reason, that they are made in the image and likeness of God, created to communicate in his goodness, share in his grace, and rejoice in his glory."

Francis de Sales (AD 1567-1622), Treatise on the Love of God

This is a breathtaking passage. In veritatem lectio divina suprema!

De Sales was the bishop of Geneva, a zealous leader of the Counter-Reformation, and a man who, by all appearances, knew how to *love* God in every area of life, (seemingly) big and (misleadingly) small, (ostensibly) important and (allegedly) trivial.

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