It is very narrow, on account of the difficulty of fulfilling its precepts; but, because of the divine goodness, to which it directs us, it may be said to be very wide. For why should it appear difficult to love God with our whole heart, soul, and strength, since He is most beautiful, most wise, and most worthy of infinite love?
It is not difficult to love that which is excellent and beautiful on the earth; but it is not to love. Does God, then, seem to do us an injury when He so strictly commands us to love Him, as if we were not bound to love Him of our own accord?
We ardently love what is beautiful in the world, because we clearly see it, but ‘God no one hath ever seen’ Thus we do not see God, but we daily behold His works, which are so beautiful, and of which the Wise man speaks: ‘With whose beauty if they, being deceived, took them to be Gods, let them know how much the Lord of them is more beautiful than they: for the first Author of beauty made all these things.’ (Sirach. 13: 3)
God is Good and Beautiful
We also experience His goodness in His daily benefits to us; and we have Him for a testimony who beholds us, and who cannot deceive: viz. the Holy Spirit, who speaks by the apostles and prophets in the holy Scripture. God, therefore, is so good and beautiful, that He alone deserves to be called good and beautiful.
But you will say, it is hard that we should, for the love of God, be sometimes compelled to lose our property, friends, and even life itself. I acknowledge that it is so to those who love not God: but to those who do love Him, and desire to possess Him, I assert that it is very easy, especially since, if we despise temporal goods for the love of God, we shall possess those that are incomparably superior to them.
Despise Temporal Goods for the Love of God
And what are these? You lose corruptible riches, but you will acquire an eternal kingdom; you lose father, brothers, and friends, but you will possess God for your father, Christ for your brother, and all the angels and saints for your friends and companions: you lose a temporal life, full of misery, but you will gain an eternal one, full of happiness.
Hear the Canticle of divine love: ‘If a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing;’ and a little above: ‘Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it.’ Hear, again, a lover of God; ‘Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword? But in all these things we overcome, because of Him that has loved us.’ (Romans, 8:35)
Love your Neighbor and Love your Enemy
But so to love my neighbor as to share my goods with him; and, even though he is my enemy and has grievously injured me, I should be obliged not only to pardon him, but also to be kind towards him: this seems to be against nature. It may be against nature corrupted by sin, but not against nature regenerated by the grace of Christ. Does not God himself share His blessings with His enemies, and daily pardon them, and return them good for evil? ‘He makes His sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and rains upon the just and the unjust.’
Now, if God thus acts towards His enemies, it is not against the nature of God, nor the nature of men created after His image, to love his enemies, and do them good. But it is opposite to the nature of beasts, and of those, ‘who, when they were in honor, did not understand; but they are compared to senseless beasts, and are become like to them.’
- – - written by St. Robert Ballarmine
Tags: creator, god, love, neighbor, thoughts