Sic deus dilexit mundum means ‘for God so loved the world.’ Love is an emotion or a feeling that has been time and again defined and redefined. It has been defined rightly and wrongly. From time to time, from place to place, from people to people, the definition of love has been different. Different religious traditions all over the world have defined love basing on the teachings of various spiritual leaders of the history. The best definition that one can come across in the entire breadth and width of the human life is in the first letter of St. John 4:8b which says, “quoniam Deus caritas est”, “For God is love.” Nothing has been compared to love here rather love has been equated to God.
This definition that God is love is not merely telling the world that God is love but an assurance to the entire human kind that as God is the primary and the almighty force, love is that feeling which God has in him and which emanates from him for each one of them. In other words, love has something godly in it. St. John says, “Whoever does not love does not know God” (1 Jn 4:8). When one says that s/he loves someone, it means that s/he is expressing the nature of God in her/him for the other person. Therefore, love is not merely a human feeling expressed between two people rather the nature of God expressed in human relationships.
There is no better definition to love than the one shown to us by God through the giving of his only begotten son, Jesus for the salvation of the mankind. He expressed this love by letting his son take the form of a human being. “The word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). Love is today defined from point of the advantage one has from the other and the needs fulfilled. It is more misunderstood than understood in the right way. For God, love was not a means for material gain or making use of the other person. For him, love existed in him as the core of his nature and by loving human beings he was only revealing his nature as God. We are expected to love one another as God loved the human race.
Expressions of God’s love
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). God expressed his love for us primarily in the person of Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God is a gift of love wrapped in the human form and presented to us by his Father in heaven. It was the most tangible and clear expression of God’s love for the mankind. There has never been a better expression of his love than this. Love for human beings overflew in his heart that he deigned to send his only begotten son in the human form to this world.
Incarnation of Jesus is not the only expression of God’s love for humanity. It is the most outstanding expression of his love. God expressed his love from time immemorial. The act of creation; creating human beings in his image and likeness is but one of the earliest or probably the first expression of God’s love for humanity as visible to us in the Sacred Scriptures. “God created humankind in his image; in the image of God he created them” (Genesis 1:27). From then onwards it has been a series of expressions of God’s love in various times and places, through the human history. From the moment the Israelites came out of Egypt and marched towards the Promised Land, till they reached there, God kept on accompanying them, expressing his love for them time and again. In this long journey, the people did murmur against God, disobeyed him, spoke ill of him, worshipped pagan gods and committed adultery yet, the God whose nature was love, loved them deeply and kept on moving with them through the wilderness for long forty years.
Relevance of God’s love today
God’s love existed in the beginning of creation. It exists today and it will exist tomorrow and the ages to come. In creation God’s love was visible probably for the first time. Then his love was visible through the Israelites’ entire life. His love tangibly manifested in the incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God. If God’s love was visible to the humankind in the past in these ways, it is visible to us today in our human relationships. God loved you and me therefore he sent his only Son. He shared his own with us out of his love for us. What about us? How does the love of God become relevant in our lives today? Is there the divine touch in our relationships? Or have our relationships turned out to me merely sensual or physical? Let the love of God, the genuine love of God be the source and strength of our relationships.
Fr. Rajesh P.