Love Desires to See God by Saint Peter Chrysologus
When God saw the world falling to ruin because of fear, he immediately acted to call it back to himself with love. He invited it by his grace, preserved it by his love, and embraced it with compassion.
Thus, when the earth had grown old in evil, God sent the flood both to punish and to release it. He called Noah to be the father of a new era, urged him with gentle words, and showed his trust in him. He instructed him about the present and reassured him about the future. God did not just issue orders but shared in the work of shutting into the ark all that was to be born into the world in the future. Thus by sharing in love he took away servile fear, and he protected with shared love whatever their shared labour had saved.
Thus God called Abraham out of the heathen world, lengthened his name from ‘Abram’, and made him our father in faith. He accompanied him on his journeys, protected him in foreign lands, enriched him with possessions, and honoured him with victories. He made promises to him, saved him from harm, accepted his hospitality, and astonished him by giving him the offspring he had despaired of. Abraham was favoured with so many good things and drawn by God’s sweet love so that he would learn to love, not fear: love, not fear was to inspire him to worship.
Thus when Jacob was fleeing, God comforted him with a dream and roused him to combat upon his return. He hugged him in a wrestler’s grip so that he would love the one who had given battle and not fear him.
Thus God called Moses as a father would. It was with fatherly affection that he invited him to become the liberator of his people.
But in all the events we have recalled, the flame of God’s love set human hearts on fire and intoxicated human senses. Wounded by love, men longed to see God with their bodily eyes.
How could our narrow human vision perceive one whom the whole world cannot contain? What will be, what ought to be, what can be – the law of love does not care about these things. Love does not have judgement, reason, strategy. Love refuses to be consoled when its goal proves impossible, refuses to be cured if its goal is difficult to achieve.
Love destroys the lover if he cannot obtain what he loves. It goes where it is led, not where it ought to go. Love gives birth to desire, it bursts into flame and that fire draws it to seek forbidden things. What more is there to say?
Love cannot accept not seeing the thing that it loves. That is why the saints counted whatever they deserved as being nothing if it did not mean that they could see the Lord.
Thus although a love that desires to see God may not be desiring something reasonable, but still its desire is a truly good thing.
Thus it was that Moses dared to say: If I have found favour in your eyes, show me your face.
Thus it was that the psalmist said: Show me your face. Even the pagans were obeying the same impulse when they made their idols: even though they were mistaken, they knew that they had to see with their eyes what they worshipped with their hearts.
Source: The Liturgy of the Hours – Office of Readings
From a sermon by St Peter Chrysologus
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons