The Power of Divine Love
“We all need to ask ourselves the most important question in life. Why are we here? What does God seek from us during this short time on earth?
The answer is simple, although it may be difficult to realize. We live in order to love! We are invited to understand that we are loved by God, we are His beloved, and from this foundation of love we are called to love others.
There is a story of a holy elder who was saying his morning prayers with his disciples. They were praying under a tree whose roots stretched out over the river bank. In the middle of the prayers, the elder noticed that the river was rising and a scorpion happened to be caught in the roots of the tree. The elder was afraid that the scorpion might drown so he reached down to try and free the scorpion. Yet each time he tried to save the scorpion, the scorpion responded by trying to sting the elder. One of the holy man’s disciples said to his Geronta, “Don’t you know that a scorpion’s nature is to sting? Why do you keep trying to save him? You will get stung!” The elder reached down to try and help the scorpion one more time. “Yes, that may be true, but don’t you know that my nature as a child of God is to love and to save. Why should I change my nature simply because the scorpion does not change its nature?”
Our nature as a new creation in Christ is to love and to save. In today’s Gospel reading, we heard one of the most famous verses of the Bible – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
These beautiful verses summarize the divine love of God. He loves us. We are His beloved. And when we are filled with His love, when we truly understand that we are His beloved deep within our souls, then it will become our nature to love others the way God loves us. This unconditional, sacrificial, divine love opens up an unending wellspring of love within our lives which we want to share with others!
Whenever we come across a person who treats us badly, we must ask ourselves, “Why should I change my nature simply because of his poor behavior?” If someone else wants to be angry and say evil things about us and even hate us, we must ask ourselves, “Why should I change my nature of love simply because the other acts out of their hatred and evil. If we hate someone who hates us, how are we allowing God’s love to shine forth from us? In contrast, when we learn to respond with peace to anger, with love to hatred, with kindness and mercy to any offense, this shows that we are cultivating divine love in our heart.
Of course, such divine love is not easy. It is difficult to love those who hate us, to forgive those who hurt us, or to show mercy to those who offend us. Yet, God is ready to fill us with this divine love, to overflow our hearts with His divine agape. It is from the ocean of God's love that comes the tiny drops of our own ability to love.
We receive the ability to love through the new life that comes from Christ! His divine love helps us overcome any anger, bitterness, hatred, or evil that may tempt us. Through divine love, we discover the path to our true nature – our identity as God’s beloved children.
Here is a beautiful description of divine love in the midst of utter darkness. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic suffered terribly from the evils of a Nazi concentration camp. Yet he responded to the evils of the world with God’s love:
O Lord, bless my enemies. Enemies have driven me into Your embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to the earth, yet enemies have loosed me from the earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world. Bless my enemies, O Lord. Whenever I have made myself wise, my enemies have called me foolish. Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf. Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out. Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment. Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.
One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends. It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil, my friends or enemies. Therefore Lord, bless both my friends and my enemies. A slave curses his enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life but can teach him much about life. Therefore, we can freely walk among them and pray to God for them. Bless my enemies, O Lord, bless them and do not curse them.
Let me conclude with one final story. One day, an elder asked his disciples, “When do you know that the night has ended and the day has begun?” One disciple answered, “When you look in the distance and can distinguish between a fig tree and a palm tree.” Another said, “When you look in the distance and can distinguish between a dog and a sheep.” And others gave similar answers. One by one, the holy father rejected each. Finally, his disciples asked him, “When do we know that the night has ended and the day has begun?” And the elder answered, “When we look in the distance, and see no difference between our enemy and our friend – when we look at both with love, then we know that our night has ended and our day has begun.”
Divine love reveals to us the eternal day! May we open our hearts and be filled with God’s divine love and then live our lives sharing this love with others, loving even our enemies with His love.
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