“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you… If the world hate you know this: that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15: 8-12, 18-19
The starry night sky is dimming and soon will grow dark. How little Emanuel Kant knew about the nature of reality — it is said that as he gazed upon the starry sky his interiority was filled with awe, but who knows what Kant really felt or really believe, he was after all selling books and crafting a reputation amongst philosophers. Astrophysicists tell us that the twinkling light of eventide has traveled billions of years to reach our field of vision. And much of the light we see is orphaned light; it is all that is left of many a burned out sun. And though it appears that the occasional new sun is born, the consensus is, and has been for years, that all that is out there in interstellar space is running out of energy. Eventually twilight will have its last and final gleaming as a glooming of darkness washes over our whole burned out universe and everything will flicker, sputter, and die. I am not sure how that data would have changed Emanuel Kant’s inward disposition of awe, but in our day and time people conclude, from that information, proof that there is no God. How could there be a God if that is all there is? But do not forget, people in our day and time are narcissistic to the core and most personal horizons emerge from a chronic nearsightedness.
As a matter of fact the vision of the astrophysicists of today is pretty close to the vision of Psalmists writing four thousand years ago:
“Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall pass away: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” Psalm 102: 25-26
The light we see is very old light. The light we see did not bring itself into existence, but it is proceeding from a star, a sun, that is in a way the parent of the light. The light we see exist because it was in a sun we do not see. It really participates in and was birthed by a sun we do not see and so it is truly “light from light,” which phrase we know from the Nicene Creed. The light is of the exact nature of that from which it proceeds. As long as the sun we do not see continues to wax stronger and stronger it will continue to give birth to more and more light. But when a sun fails, when it begins waning, the light we see is no longer participating in a living procession of light and it will eventually weaken and be overthrown by darkness. The creation will wax old and pass away, but we trust not in creation: our true trust is in the Creator — God abides without beginning or end.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
As light does not give birth to a sun, so a branch does not give birth to a vine, and we do not give birth God our Savior. A sun gives birth to light and in a manner of speaking nourishes the light, the vine gives birth to the branches and nourishes the branches, and God gives birth to our existence as a pure gift and he continues to nourish and love us. There is no necessity in our existence. We are because God has lovingly willed us to be and continues to lovingly will us to be. Love is the eternal relation of the Trinity: Jesus has revealed God’s interiority to us and that interiority is the perfect love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Trinitarian love is the very life of the Church of the Blessed Trinity. God so loves his Son and God so loves the world that he gave his own life so that we may live in his life in this world and in the world to come.
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
Jesus, the Word of the Father is, as we profess in the Creed, “Light from Light,” of the very same nature as the Father and that nature is summed up in love. The Light that Jesus is lightens the whole world and lightens every man and woman that enters the world, and that Light is the love of God. Jesus has brought the love of the Father’s interior life to us and he says that his love — Jesus’ love — for his Church is equivalent to the Father’s love for him — that is the Father’s love for Jesus. Jesus later on this late, late night, before he enters into the garden, will express the greatness of this divine love directed to God’s creature man. As he is consecrating his own self, soul, and body to the Father for the sacrifice about to come, he prays the prayer recorded in John 17:
“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” John 17:22-23
The love with which Jesus loves us is equivalent to the Father’s love for Jesus, but the Father loves us, as Jesus says in his prayer — the Father loves Jesus’ disciples with the same love with which he loves Jesus himself. To abide in Jesus’ love is to abide in the Father’s love.
Nietzsche was right when he said, modern man is obtuse, dull-witted to Christian values and imagery. The horribleness crucifixion — the belief that God was nailed to the Cross for our sin, and that he loves us, that he has made us his children through baptism, and that we ought to love one another like he loves us, and that we should even love those who hate us:
“because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:3-7
How is it that being an “heir of God through Christ” doesn’t move us to change everything in the world, or at least everything in our world? The notion of being “an heir of God” makes no sense whatsoever if you take it seriously — it just sounds either insolent or absurd. One simply does not know where to begin to make sense of it and were it not written by an Apostle of Jesus and had Jesus not been hinting along these lines all alone we would ignore it. (But of course that is what we do!) Were it not written by an Apostle the claim that, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you…” — or that Jesus believed that the Father loves us with the same love with which he loves Jesus — it would be just nonsense. But we don’t usually get that far because we censor Jesus and clean it up for mass consumption.
This is what Jesus and his Apostles teach: We are abiding, participating in the life of God the Father through God the Son, which is to participate in God’s eternal, all powerful, invincible life. It is marked by our obedience to Christ and our willingness to lay down our life for one another. Once again we come upon Nietzsche’s assault against the Church and our censorship of Jesus: No one really believes or gives a moments notice to the fact that Jesus on the night he was betrayed taught his closest disciples that their love for him, for his Father, and for one another must be to the point of self-sacrifice. Participation in Jesus means participation in his suffering. Our love and loyalty to Jesus, according to Jesus, is indistinguishable from our love and loyalty to one another. And we are responsible because we actually participate in God’s life through the life of the Church.
“If the world hate you know this: that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
Charity, the love of God, is the mark of the Church, but World is disclosed by its hatred of the love of God. The hatred of the World caused the death of Jesus upon the Cross. In the last few hours of his life before his betrayal and scourging and crucifixion, these two realities — the love of God as well as the hatred of the World were so important for the life of Church that they dominate the rest of the Gospel. Why? Because for us to participate in the life of God through Jesus’s love means that the World hates us. You may embrace the World or you may embrace the love of God. If I embrace the love the World, I would be like the light we see at eventide that has been orphaned — I would be to appear to be alive, while I am good as dead. But we are not orphans. God is our Father and Jesus is the Lover of our Souls and we are not destined to flicker out of existence, but we are destined as Children of God, to deification, to see God face to face and to live with him forever.