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2013-07-07 message

posted Jul 12, 2013, 2:49 PM by St. John's Webmaster

The most famous verse of Scripture is perhaps John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” St. John the Theologian tells us that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). We also have the words of Jesus commanding His disciples to love one another as He had loved them. The emphasis placed on it tells us that love is essential to being a Christian. It is worthwhile, therefore, to look at the Orthodox understanding of love.

We hear often the dictum “follow your heart,” whether it be in the choice of career or in relationships. It is implied that we should follow our feelings, rather than our thoughts. There seems to be a general understanding here that feelings should have precedence over rationality. This is reflected also in the rather common understanding of love as either primarily or exclusively a feeling.

In this context it is useful to look at our services and sacraments. In baptism we ask that the person being baptized be make a reason-endowed sheep of God’s flock. We also say that in man the body is to serve the reason-endowed soul. Finally, in the Divine Liturgy we speak of the reasonable worship (logike latreia). It is indeed in the context of this reasonable worship that we are asked to come with fear of God, faith, and love to the communion of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This could not happen if love and rationality were set at odds with one another by nature.

The idea that love and rationality would be opposed is false. It is based on a limited understanding of both love in particular and human beings in general. For now we will simply say that there is a rationality, a reason, a logos, to love. We will continue to explore the idea of love in the following weeks. In the meantime, let us continue to love one another as well as we can and always by God’s grace.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter