instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, May 22, 2006

Breathless homilizing

So how many people heard a homily on Deus Caritas Est Sunday?

The homilist I heard worked it in briefly at the end, illuminating the Pope's statement, "God loves, and his love may certainly be called eros, yet it is also totally agape." I'll riff on it this way:

First, we understand Divine agape as the, if you will, ordinary "descending love" of unearned benevolence God has for His creatures. Divine eros, on the other hand, is, in Scriptural terms, God's jealous desire for us, whole and entire, spirit, soul, and body. So how can these two loves, expressed in terms that suggest they operate in opposite directions, be "totally" the same?

Let's try some wordplay. The Holy Spirit is said to be Love, the love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father. That in itself suggests how eros and agape are totally the same in the life of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit is also the "breath" of God. So we can think of breathing out as sending the Holy Spirit forth as agape, and of breathing in as the Holy Spirit returning to the Godhead as eros. Out, in: it's all breathing.

I'm also reminded of Isaiah 55:10-11:
For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down And do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
What was God's will in sending the Word to earth? "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." Drawing to yourself is an erotic act.

What remains to be explained is how an unchanging, perfect, and simple God can love His creatures in this way. The short answer (if you'll pardon the presumption) is that, having received the Son and the Holy Spirit, we share in their lovableness. The Trinity doesn't say from eternity, "We love Each Other... ooh, and hey, We also love these creatures here!" It's all the same love. (It has to be. Otherwise, it's not the same Spirit, and that's a Bad Thing.)