DEUS CARITAS EST“GOD IS LOVE” DECEMBER 25, 2005
“God is Love and He who abides in Love abides in God and God in Him.” 1 John 4:16 • “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all your soul and all your might.” Deuteronomy 6: 4-5 • “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Leviticus 19:18 (Matthew 12: 29-36)
TWO PARTS OFDEUS CARITAS EST • More speculative – Love of God lavished on us – Importance of sacred scripture • More concrete – Love of neighbor
PART I Unity of Love in Creation and In Salvation History
MANY MEANINGS OF LOVE: • Neighbor, country, profession, friends • Especially important – love between man & woman where body & soul are inseparably joined and human beings glimpse on apparently irresistable promise of happiness.
DISTINCTION BETWEEN EROS & AGAPE • EROS (from the ancient Greeks) • In Greek, OT, mentioned only twice • NT not mentioned at all • AGAPE • Something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of Love.
DID CHRISTIANITY DESTROY EROS? • OT didn’t reject it but declared war on a warped and destructive form of it because this counterfeit divinization of Eros actually strips it of its dignity and dehumanizes it.
POPE BENEDICT XVI • “We shouldn’t submit to instinct.” • “Purification and growth in maturity are called for.” • “Far from poisoning or rejecting ‘Eros’, these qualities heal it and restore it to its true grandeur. After all, we are body and soul.”
CONTEMPORARY EXALTATIONOF THE BODY • Deceptive – Eros reduced to pure sex, person becomes a commodity • Hardly a great “yes” to the Body • Exaltation of Body can quickly turn into a hatred of Bodiliness.
RICH IMAGES OF BODY FROM SCRIPTURE • No longer self-seeking, a sinking into intoxication for happiness – instead seeks good of the Beloved. • Eros & Agape can never be separated • Eros without God’s love impoverishes its nature
GOD’S LOVE IS PERSONAL AND PASSIONATE • Hosea & Ezekiel: Uses boldly erotic language • Close connection between Eros and marriage in the Bible has practically no equivalent in extra Biblical literature
NOVELTY OF NEW TESTAMENT • Figure of Jesus – gives Flesh and Blood to these concepts – an unprecedented realism • I cannot possess Jesus just for myself • Communion with Jesus also means unity with all Christians
EUCHARISTIC COMMUNION Includes both the reality of being loved and of loving others in return
PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITANLuke 10: 25 Two important clarifications: • Limit of love for people abolished – love is universalized • Not reduced to the generic but applies to every human being -- Love of God and neighbor inseparable single command
PART IIThe Practice of Love by the Church as a Community of Love • Love of neighbor is the responsibility of the Church at every level • As community, the Church must practice love
LOVE NEEDS TO BE ORGANIZED IF IT IS TO BE AN ORDERED SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY • Early Church – radical forms of communion could not be preserved • In community of believers – never room for poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life
CHURCH CANNOT NEGLECT SERVICE OF CHARITY ANYMORE THAN SHE CAN NEGLECT THE SACRAMENTS AND WORD. • Great witness – Julian the Apostate
TWO ESSENTIAL FACTS • Church’s three-fold responsibility: • Proclaiming the Word • Celebrating the Sacraments • Exercising Ministry of Charity • Church is God’s family in the World: Parable of the Good Samaritan. • Vatican II: Pastoral Constitution in the Modern World
CHARITY & JUSTICE GO TOGETHER • Marxism focused only on justice • Relationship between capital and labor a decisive issue • “Slowness of Church to realize that the issues of post-structure of society needed to be approached in a new way.” Pope Leo XIII
DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHURCH’S SOCIAL TEACHING Relationship between justice and charity • Just ordering of society and the State – central responsibility of politics. • Need for constant purification – meeting of politics and faith.
CHURCH CANNOT TAKE UPON HERSELF THE POLITICAL BATTLE TO BRING ABOUT A MORE JUST SOCIETY. • Church cannot replace the State • Church uses argument and persuasiveness
LOVE – ALWAYS NECESSARY IN MOST JUST SOCIETIES • Vatican II – Decree on Apostolate of Laity #8 “Now that, through better means of communication, distances between peoples have almost been eliminated, charitable activity can and should embrace all people and all needs.”
BIRTH AND GROWTH OF MANY FORMS OF COOPERATION BETWEEN STATE AND CHURCH AGENCIES • Involvement of young • Fruitful link between evangelization and works of charity
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF CHRISTIAN AND CHURCH CHARITY • Charity responds to immediate needs of people • Christian charitable activity must be free of parties and ideologies • Charity cannot be used as a means of proselytism -- love is free • Practicing charity never seeks to impose the Church’s faith on others.
OUR RESPONSIBILITY • To be a Church of Word, Sacrament and Charity in Action All three evangelize us: • Jesus the Servant • Jesus the Redeemer • Jesus our Light and Resurrection Faith, Hope & Charity go together
MARY • Woman of Hope • Woman of Faith • Woman of Love