Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Extravagance of Divine Love


The term Advent comes from the Latin word Aventus and can be translated as coming, arrival or presence.  It is then very fitting that our holy Mother Church designated Advent as the first season of the new Liturgical Year. In understanding that God is very near, we feel strengthened to continue facing the challenges of life on our journey of faith throughout the year. 
 
Yet, it is only in stillness, silence and attentiveness that we are able to sense the presence of God manifested in many different ways and circumstances of our life.  And how does God come to us?  “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn. 1:14)  This is the wonderful and unfathomable mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God that should make our heart burn with profound gratitude each time we contemplate the love of God

St. John tells us that "God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life." (Jn 3:16).  In his commentary on the Gospel of St. John, our Brother Thomas Aquinas teaches us that the cause of all our good is the Lord and divine love.  For to love is to will good to someone.  And it is because of his great love that God gives us the good of glory, and this love of God is the greatest for the following reasons:
 
First, God’s love is the greatest because of the person loving...it is God who loves, and infinitely.  Thus he says, God so loved.
 
Secondly, God’s love is the greatest because of the condition of the one who is loved; that is, man, who is of the world and living in sin.  St. Paul writes: God shows his love for us, because while we were still his enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” (Rom 5:8)  Hence he says, the world. 
 
Thirdly, God’s love is the greatest because of the greatness of his gifts, for love is shown by a gift; as Gregory says: “The proof of love is given by action.”  But God gave us the greatest of gifts, his only begotten Son; his natural Son, consubstantial, not adopted, to prove the enormity of his love.  St. Paul again writes that "God did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for all of us.” (Rom 8:32)  Therefore he says, that he gave his only begotten Son.
 
Fourthly, God’s love is the greatest because of the greatness of its fruit, which is eternal life.  Accordingly he says, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life.  This he obtained for us through his death on the Cross.

But did God give us his Son with the intention that he should die on the Cross?  Indeed says St. Thomas, that God gave Him to us for this purpose. The Son of God freely willed from eternity to assume flesh and to suffer for us.  He has a divine will (along with a human will) that is totally in union with the Father's.  
 
Truly, our God is an awesome God!
 
So  next time when we experience a personal Advent, a visit from God, whether it be a happy occasion or an afflicted situation, let us continually give thanks to God for He is a "mad Lover" as our Sister Catherine of Siena tells us. He wants to come to us, live with us, share our life with us and desires that we share our life with him in whatever state of life we found ourselves in.
 
Let us conclude this meditation with a verse from the Stanbrook Abbey's hymn that we've been singing each night at Compline:
 
With all who wait with longing
give thanks that never cease
For Him whom God is sending
to visit us in peace.  


A Blessed and Holy Advent to All!

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