Learning the Way of the Love Which Creates Equality
Love creates equality. Remember the principle. Be wary, then, what and how you love.
Love creates equality, says St. Augustine of Hippo in one of his sermons. St. John of the Cross reiterates the same principle in his Spiritual Canticle: "It is the property of love to place him who loves on an equality with the object of his love." Love creates equality. This is an important spiritual principle.
Love creates equality. It is a fundamental spiritual principle.
It is important to understand what St. Augustine and St. John of the Cross mean by this love which creates equality, as the love they speak about creates equality not by bringing men down, but by raising men up. This love which creates equality has an upward pull, not a downward bent.
The "love-which-creates-equality" of which St. Augustine and St. John speak is, of course, the love of God.
Now the term "love of God" is wonderfully ambiguous. Grammarians will recognize that the phrase can be understood either as an objective genitive or a subjective genitive, i.e., it can either mean that God is the object or the subject of "love." So "love of God" may mean "God (as subject) loves man (as object)." But it can also mean "man (as subject) loves God (as object)."
In short, "love of God" can mean the love that God has for man, or the love that man has for God, or both.
What is notable is that the "love-of-God-which-creates-equality" must be understood as having both objective and subjective components. It is a two-way love of God which creates equality, and not a one way love of God which creates equality.
For there to be a love which creates equality, God must love man and, in turn, man must love God. There must be a union of wills between God and man, and for there to be a union of wills, there must be mutuality. Love must be mutual.
It takes two to tango, we say. What is true in dancing is true in the spiritual life. It takes two to have a love-which-creates-equality.
Man could love God all he wished, but that would never make man equal to God. Man's love of God alone--if such a thing be even possible without grace--is not a love-of-God-which-creates-equality.
Similarly, God could love man all he wished, and in fact God does, but that would never make man equal to God. God's love of man alone is not a love-of-God-which-creates-equality.
Now man cannot love--on his own--God. Man's love is insufficient, and must be supplemented with God's own love. God, says St. John of the Cross, is pleased with the growth of our souls, but the only way that our soul can grow in love of God is for the soul to become in a manner equal to God. This is something clearly outside of the soul's unaided power.
This is exactly the point of St. John the Apostle who states: "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) The initiator of the love-of-God-which-creates-equality is God. He loves first.
The God who loves first is the one who came down to our level when His Word visited us in Christ, "Who "though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, and found in human appearance." (Phil. 2:6-7)
St. John of the Cross explains what can happen to a soul when it takes this love of God proffered to the soul by God and loves God with it, or rather with Him, as the love God gives man to love Him with is the Holy Spirit, a person. "Thus the soul loves God with the will and strength of God Himself, being made one with that very strength of love wherewith itself is loved of God. This strength is the Holy Spirit, in Whom the soul is thereby transformed." (38.4)
But again, the love which God has for us, and the Love which God gives to us to love Him with cannot--without us--be the love-of-God-which-creates-equality. To paraphrase St. Augustine, He who loved us without us, cannot love us with a love-which-creates-equality without us.
St. John of the Cross recognizes how mutuality is required for the love of God to create equality. In his Spiritual Canticle (12:7), St. John states: "when the union of love occurs, . . . it may be truly said the Beloved lives in the loving soul, and the loving soul in the Beloved. Love produces such a resemblance by the transformation of those who love that one may be said to be the other, and both but one."
While God's love of us is perfect, our love of God--at least in statu viae, while on pilgrimage on earth--does not reach perfection. "Beloved," says the Apostle John, "we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He ...
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