by Fr. Nicholas Loudovikos
Those words – “to love one another” – “thus I command you, to love one another” – is a comprehensive command, which is why elsewhere we read that “…on this commandment hinges the law and the prophets”: everything leads us there. When one has love, he has everything: “whether there be tongues, they shall be abolished; whether prophecy, it shall cease…” Only love shall remain forever – love, which is God’s manner of existence. It is the way that God understands Himself. It is the manner in which He exercises His freedom, within His very existence. Because, you see, God the Father is not the governor of the other (two) Persons; He wants them consubstantial – He begets a consubstantial Son, He begets a consubstantial Spirit. God is not a tyrant. It is not “the Father” and “the Son” (separately). It is the Father and the Son in the manner of “the Father in the Son” : “I am in the Father, and He is in Me”. Freedom, therefore, as love. And freedom as love outwardly also…. He could have been a tyrant, but He is not an oppressor….
The phrase used by the Fathers here in order to explain this, is the expression “analogy”. Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, Saint Maximus the Confessor and other Fathers say that the manner in which God communicates with people is analogous. What does “analogous” mean? It means that God does what He does, proportionately to what a person needs and to who that person is. The uttermost reaches of that “proportionately” is the Incarnation – do you understand? God enters into human affairs. Why does He enter? So that He can support man – it is what man needs. That is what he needs… man doesn’t need orders. The reverse case would be for God to stay “outside” – the way it is perceived in Islam – and to give orders, from above.
Here, we don’t have orders. What do we have? We have the introduction of the First-born into the world. God comes along and He assumes. What does He assume? Me, my death, my irrationality, that which I am today… this body of sin – but not the sin itself – only the intention. Except that His intention is free of sin. The consequences of sin however (the death and corruption that I am subject to), these are what He assumes.
What kind of sacrifice is this? “He Who cannot be contained in anything, was contained in flesh”. Why? This means He enters “proportionately”, because of His love, into my difficulties, into the condition of my fall. If one could only understand these things, can you imagine how much he will love God? If he begins to understand just how huge these things are? The Incarnation wouldn’t have been necessary. We could have just had a celestial dynast, the way we did in the Old Testament… the way we have Him in the Koran and (the way that) we are told by Islamists nowadays (the Elder knows that I have been invited to participate in the Islam-Christian dialogue) that they cannot perceive that the Incarnation has taken place…. Do you have any idea what a terrible thing that is? A world without the Incarnation is a world without God; it is a world in which God is just the projection of a dictator. That’s how God would have been then… He would not have bothered….
What do you do with a child of yours (assuming you have a child)? Don’t you help it to walk on all fours first? Right? At first you carry it in your arms – you carry it, you don’t order it to walk – and you also feed it with milk. Then what do you give it? Mashed food. Whoever of you here has children knows how the story goes…. the infant then crawls on all fours, and you, instead of discouraging it, will say “Try to walk! Yes! That’s good! Come on!” Then it will stand on its own two feet and you will be there to catch it and hold it and eventually the child will become a champion and achieve a 100-metre sprint in -say- 10 seconds. Essentially, what you are doing is ONLY assisting it. Well, that’s what God does. He enters into man’s circumstances, into his life, and becomes like him. You have seen how all parents become silly dads and silly moms, and that if they don’t, they are probably sick in their souls… if both the parent and the child don’t… if you don’t play with your child and you don’t roll around on the grass with your child, right? Your child won’t be OK if you don’t enter into its life – the child will have a psychological problem tomorrow, and you already have one.
So, you can see that this is the same as what God does. This is what the Incarnation is; this is what real loving is. To love in deed is like… well… we can’t fully envisage what it is, because as much as we may love – let’s say – dogs, you will refuse to become both a dog and a human in order to help dogs from within, and thus lead them to their liberation. Do you see what I’m saying here? This is a huge thing. It is that love – that love proven by our acts – and that love is a really huge thing. THAT is the kind of love that God wants from us also.
In other words, it is the kind of love that by definition will enter. Enter where? Into the other’s troubles. This is the kind of love that will enter into the other’s problems. It will not keep out. That is why we don’t have love…I myself who is speaking to you don’t have such love… it is not only you, not any of us…. this is our illness. We need to understand what God is and how God loves, in order to gradually enter into that love.