Friday, March 22, 2013

Love Is Sufficient

Wherefore, the man who lives in love reaps life from God, and while yet in this world, he even now breathes the air of the resurrection; in this air the righteous will delight in the resurrection. Love is the Kingdom, whereof the Lord mystically promised His disciples to eat in His Kingdom. For when we hear Him say, “Ye shall eat and drink at the table of my Kingdom,” what do we suppose we shall eat, if not love? Love is sufficient to nourish a man instead of food and drink.  - St. Isaac of Nineveh, Homilies I, No. 46, pp. 357-358
Quite by happy accident, I stumbled across a series of posts at Eclectic Theology that features the work of 7th century mystic,ascetic, and preacher St.Isaac the Syrian.

I suppose all those folks who have been heaping scorn on Rob Bell for suggesting God's Love is more powerful than our sin (something you'd think these folks would remember from, I don't know, Easter) are quite ready to toss blessed St. Isaac on the same dung heap.

The series is excellent, and the long quotations from St. Isaac's sermons, while sometimes odd to contemporary ears for their occasional neo-Platonism, nevertheless circle back around, again and again, to the heart of the Scriptural testimony: that God's love, incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, is fully revealed in the death and resurrection; from that flows the Spirit of this same love that fills all creation, renewing us so that we might yet be what God created all to be - all creation living to love and give praise and thanksgiving to God for our existence.

While I'm sure some folks won't like what St. Isaac wrote concerning hell and punishment, it is rooted in the heart of the Scriptures, the Gospel of Divine mercy and love revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.  This is why I think the one area where Isaac kind of misses the boat is his argument that mercy, rather than justice, describes God's dealings with creation.  It might be better, as Karl Barth (and those following him) said, that love and mercy define the quality of God's justice.  Revealed in the passion, God's justice is a justice that forgives, an anger that is satisfied with mercy, and a double election that swallows up the contradictions in the cross and empty tomb.  In that sense, I think, while it is all well and good to speak of the prodigality and scandal of Divine Mercy, it should always be done as a description of the revealed quality of Divine justice.

That, however, is a relatively small nit to pick.  There is beauty in these sermons.  There is, above all, a vision of Divine Love and Grace, the very heart of the Gospel as revealed in Jesus crucified and raised, that is refreshing as it is, more than likely, scandalous to far too many wedded to a vision of themselves as winners of the Great Cosmic Lotto.

I recommend these posts, in particular as we move in and through Holy Week.

Virtual Tin Cup

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