Thursday, April 06, 2006

Deus Caritas Est - The Newness of Biblical Faith

The Jewish faith at its beginning made some pretty bold claims. The boldest claim was that the God of Israel is indeed the One and Only God, that there are no other gods, but that He alone is God. Thus, unlike the pagan religions, which explain creation as a result of war and strife between the gods, there is only one God who created the heavens and the earth. If this is the case, then it follows that creation is not a result of hate and division, but it is a result of a God who cares and loves that which He created. His love is also elective in that he chooses the Israelites for the sake of saving all humanity in the end. It is thus in God's choice that his love is seen in both the light of eros and agape. He seeks, but He also gives of Himself. It is out of God's love that He gives His people the Torah to open their eyes to the truth of Himself. Thus we see where the true humanism of man comes in. It comes through the finding of one's identity through one's relationship with God. Man is truly himself through the relationship of love that he has with God.

Agape, in its dimension within the reality of God's love, goes so far beyond self giving that it includes forgiveness. It is in the sin of man that God reveals His love at its fullness, that self-giving love includes forgiveness, and this can be seen from numerous examples in the Bible. This is the centrality of Christ's death on the Cross, that God loves humanity so much, that He would turn against Himself by becoming man, and thus, through His death, reconcile justice and love. Thus, God is indeed love, just, and forgiving.

From this image of God, we come to the image of man. For the sake of time and the fact that this will be discussed at a later time in our talks on the Theology of the Body, I will simply say the following about this. Eros is rooted in our nature, that we man is incomplete without both male and female, hence why it is not good for man to be alone. Man, in his nature, is a seeker of a communion of persons. Thus, it is this communion of persons that define who we are, and it is this communion of persons that we are made in the image and likeness of God.

This brings us to Christ, who reconciles the rift sin made between God and man through God becoming man in Christ. It is Christ who makes present to us in a very real way the true meaning of eros through the incarnation so that He may come to search out the lost sheep. It is this seeking that is the center of all the parables, such as the woman looking for the lost coin, and the shepherd going after the stray sheep. And this is all realized at the Cross when Christ's side is pierced. It is here where we see God turning against Himself, it is here that we see man raised to a new life never before imagined, through the participation in the Divine life. Yet, this is something that cannot be achieved blindly, nor intellectually. We come to realize this through contemplation.

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