Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fr. Andersen Homily: God is Love

A Homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Holy Trinity in Bandon; St. John the Baptist in Port Orford

May 10th, 2015

Dominica VI Paschae

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; remain in my love.  
Sicut dilexit me Pater, et ego dilexi vos; manete in dilectione mea.  

In the holy scriptures, we find that there are different kinds of love.  In the English language, they tend to all be translated with the same word: ’love’.  The readings for today speak of love, but two different words are used even in the same sentence in the Epistle of St. John: Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God (1Jn. 4:7).  He uses a verb and a noun.  The phrase, ‘let us love’, uses the verb diligo, dilexit from which the English word ‘diligent’ is derived.  This is the same verb used by Jesus in today’s gospel: As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  This specific word that Jesus uses for love means to choose to love, to prize, or to esteem highly.  In the English language, the word ‘diligent’ is the opposite of negligent.  Diligent means careful, assiduous, accurate.  In this type of love, there is an intellectual choice that is rooted in the will rather than the emotions or passions.  Jesus is asking you to choose to love Him and to choose to remain in His love by obeying His Commandments.  He says to us: It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you…  By those words, he is referring to this type of love.  He chose to love us.  We must choose to love Him, but it is He who has first chosen to love us. 

St. John extends that message out from the Gospel: Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God.  Here he uses a second word for love as a noun.  That word is caritas, or ‘charity’ as we know it in the English.  Charity has the meaning of something rare, precious, costly.  The love of God is indeed costly, because it cost Him His very life, His Precious Blood poured out for us.  It makes that much more sense, then, to understand the words that St. John uses here:  Beloved, let us choose to love one another diligently, carefully, accurately––because charity, which is precious and costly, is of God.  Because charity is so rare, so costly, so precious, it is therefore a treasure that we must protect and preserve with diligence, care, accuracy as we pass it on one to another.  It is not something to pass on negligently, but diligently. 

How can we do so?  Jesus tells us: “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.  Now the word that Jesus uses here is not the noun caritas, meaning charity, but back to dilectione, which is diligent, careful, constant love.  We must therefore be diligent and constant and careful in choosing every day to keep His commandments in order to remain in His constant love.  We do not remain in His diligence merely by existing.  We do remain in His charity.  He has died for all of us and each of us and will not take that back.  That is His charitable love which is precious and always extended to us.  But to remain as His chosen one is up to each of us in our careful, constant diligence.  By doing so we choose Him who has chosen us and we direct that diligent love not only back to God but to our neighbor, because of the charity of God, who is charity itself.   

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