Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

9/3/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Jesus is the Ego amo te, the "I love you" of God to man.  It requires a response from us.  By an act of faith and love inspired by grace, an "I love you, too," we can appropriate that divine offer of love.  In so doing, we will be able to say, "We love, because He first loved us."

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/3/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Jesus, love, eros, caritas, agape, Hans Urs von Balthasar, expropriation, appropriation, kenosis, faith, love, Andrew M. Greenwell


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In the seventh volume of his series The Glory of the Lord, the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar asks an unanswerable question:  "Where is a beloved person loved-in himself or in the one who loves him?"

The reason the question is unanswerable is that the answer is not either/or as the question supposes; rather, the question must be phrased in manner to allow a both/and answer.  Love is found in both the lover and the beloved, not just in one exclusively.  The beloved "is loved in the act of the one who loves him, . . . as the one who is constituted this person through this act." 

Love is both an act of the lover, but also something that is constitutive, that is, something that forms a part of, the beloved.

In other words, the fact that the beloved is loved changes both the lover and the beloved, and so the love is found in a sense in both the lover and the beloved.  If the beloved loves back, the situation is duplicated, but in reverse.

When someone loves us, he expresses that love by the sincere communication, by word or deed, of an "I love you."  In saying or doing this, the lover is going out of his self and offering to give his self to the other, to the beloved. 

Von Balthasar calls this act "expropriation."  The word "expropriate" comes from Latin "ex" meaning "away from" and "propriare" meaning "to make one's own."  It means a movement away from, or the opposite of, taking something as one's own; in other words, a giving up, a yielding, an emptying out of self.  A gift, for example, is a self-expropriation of one's property to the recipient of the gift.

This "expropriation," this "I love you," immediately puts the beloved to a test: it requires from the beloved a response. He confronts a crisis of sorts.

We might gather up the various options available to the beloved into three.  The beloved can respond hot: "I love you too."  He can respond cold: "I do not love you."  He can respond with an unconstitutive lukewarm shrug of his shoulders, a non-committal answer, a weak and love-avoiding "thank-you," but not beyond.

To respond with an "I don't love you," or to respond with an "I love you too," are constitutive acts: they change us because they are a response, positive or negative, to the lover's "I love you."  Either response requires commitment.  A lukewarm shrug of the shoulders is more offensive than a rejection because it renders the "I love you" unimportant, not worth a yeah or a nay. 

This is perhaps the explanation behind the Scripture: "I know . . . that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish that you were cold or hot.  But because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth."  (Rev. 3:15-16)

Von Balthasar explains that in order to "appropriate" a lover's "expropriated" love, that is, when he a beloved says "I love you, too," either by word or deed, the beloved must also "expropriate" himself. 

The word "appropriate" derives from the Latin "ad" and "propriare": a movement or action toward taking something as one's own.  It is the opposite of expropriate, and yet also requires a sort of self-expropriation.

To "appropriate" love, to say, "I love you too," one must "expropriate" one's self.  That is, in an image suggested by von Balthasar, one must "clear a space within one's self" for this love.  We must make room, that is empty ourselves of selfishness, to allow the other in.

Now this is difficult enough to do when what is involved is human love, even when the height of human love-that "love between man and woman," in the words of Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas est, "which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings," "where body and soul are inseparably joined and human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness," eros-is involved.  (Deus Caritas est, Nos. 2, 3). 

But what if the offer of love, the "I love you," is from God?  What if God is the one who has done the "expropriation"?

Now, God is love says the Apostle St. John (1 John 4:8), and the act by which "God loves us and definitively draws near to us, his own action, is his Son," says von Balthasar.

Jesus is the Ego amo te, the "I love you" of God to man.  Jesus is God's "expropriation" of himself to man. 

It is a full "expropriation."  Nothing, nothing is held back.  Christ Jesus, wrote St. Paul in his epistle to the Philippians, though he was "in the form of God, did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, but rather he emptied himself (ἐκένωσεν = ekenōsen), taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of men," and thus he "humbled himself by becoming obedient unto death, even death on the Cross."  (Phil. 2:6-8). 

This act of the emptying-himself-out of the Son of God, which in Greek verbal form is ekenōsen, is known in theology with the noun kenosis.  In Jesus, the kenosis was a plenary "expropriation." 

(In von Balthasar's theology, this kenosis of the God-Man is an image of the internal expropriation/appropriation which occurs in the Blessed Trinity, what he calls Ur-kenosis, but that is taking us to another topic.)

This love-offer of God and our response to it finds an analogy in human eros, because this love-offer of God in Christ to man really might be called what Pope Benedict XVI called it, "God's eros," which is of another order altogether, and so is "totally agape."  (Deus Caritas est, No. 10)

The response to the love-offer of God in Christ is faith.  Faith, writes von Balthasar, is how man's "willingness to undergo his share in the expropriation which will bring him into the sphere of expropriated love" offered to him by God in Christ.

By faith, we say "yes" to God, we expropriate ourselves (or, more precisely, we are given the grace to do so), we yield, give up, make room for the lover, and thereby make it possible to appropriate that love.

This faith is a supernatural gift, itself something appropriated through the self-expropriation of the intellect, which is itself a gift: "I believe, help Thou my unbelief."  (Matt. 9:24) 

Similarly, we might say with respect to agape love (caritas): it is appropriated through the self-expropriation of the will, which is itself a gift.  "I love, help Thou my unlove."

The "I love you" does not end with an "I love you, too."  No.  Love is not is not a game of Marco Polo, with discrete, playful calls of "I love you" and "I love you, too."

When the beloved responds "I love you, too" to the lover, the lover becomes the beloved of the former beloved, and the beloved now becomes the lover.  And so there is a sort of a reversal of roles and a reversal of expropriation and appropriation.

And it does not end there either.
 
For love is a dynamic thing, a living thing, a sort of dance, a passepied, where the lovers dance a step, elicit a response, which elicits a reply, which elicits a surresponse, which elicits a surreply . . . till death do us part or, if God is involved, in saceula saeculorum, world without end, Amen.

In the inner life of God the Blessed Trinity, we refer to this eternal reciprocal love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by the Greek word perichoresis, or by the Latin word circumincessio.  By grace, and by grace alone, if we, through self-expropriation, appropriate ourselves of God's expropriation of himself in Christ, by an act of faith and an act of love, we are captured into this eternal round of love.

In us, the dynamic result of Christ's expropriation of himself, our self-expropriation (by grace) so as to appropriate that love, and Christ's appropriation of that love by further expropriation and so on leads to a closer integration, a closer communion, between Jesus the Lord and the Christian soul.  It gets to the point, when sanctity is reached, that there is a virtual union as we become constituted in Christ.  We virtually become, by grace, other Christs.

That is why St. Paul can say, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."  (Gal. 2:20)  Yet that is also why St. Paul can say, that his life "hidden in Christ in God."  (Col. 3:3)  St. Paul is fully expropriated and so he fully appropriates Christ.  Christ is fully expropriated and has appropriated St. Paul.  Christ is in St. Paul, and St. Paul is in Christ. 

This, of course, is exactly why Jesus came into the world, and what he prayed for in his high priestly prayer, and what he wants for every single human being on this earth.  "I pray, that they may all be one, just as you and I are one, as you are in me, Father, and I am in you."  (John 17:21)

So to the impossible-to-answer question, "Where am I loved by God-in myself or in God?" we must answer: It is neither/or, but rather both/and.  We are loved by God in ourselves and in God.

Let us then turn, to the Ego amo te of God, Jesus, and yield our entire selves to him.  Let us respond to this divine "I love you," neither cold nor lukewarm, but hot: "Jesus, I love you, too, and help my unlove of you so that I, by grace, may learn fully to expropriate myself, fully to make room in my heart and soul, in my life, for you."

Then may we say with the Apostle John:  "We love, because he first loved us."  (1 John 4:19).

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

Teen delivers powerful impromptu invocation during graduation commencement's unexpected emergency Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A high school graduate stepped up to the podium during the Clay-Chalkville High School graduation ceremony and delivered a powerful prayer, after one woman had a medical emergency. The prayer moved the audience so much that his impromptu invocation was cheered for at ... continue reading


Catholic Priest warns participants of 'Charlie Charlie' Challenge summoning a demon is no joke Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Charlie, Charlie" Challenge is a game now infamous on social media that encourage players to summon a demon. According to a Mirror Online, a Catholic priest has issued a letter warning about the dangers involved with doing such a ritual, and that the challenge is ... continue reading


A Baltimorean's reflections on the Baltimore riots

Image of

By Tony Magliano

"The God of peace is never glorified by human violence," wrote the famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton. Whether it's on an individual, city, national, or international level, violence always dishonors God, and makes bad situations worse. The recent Baltimore City riots ... continue reading


Pope Francis admits to giving up TV in 1990 Watch

Image of While being in the eye of the international media, Pope Francis has little time for media. He's just too busy, and pledged not to watch TV after a pledge to the Virgin Mary in 1990.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While frequently in the media's eye, Pope Francis in fact has little time for the media. After making a promise to the Virgin Mary, the Pope claims that he has not watched TV since 1990. He did not even watch the matches of his football team San Lorenzo de ... continue reading


Pope Francis wants to be remembered as 'good guy who tried to do good' Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his brief time as the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has done many remarkable things and has captured the world's attention. He came off as surprisingly humble in a recent interview with a fellow Argentinean journalist. Pope Francis says he ... continue reading


Catholics worldwide vow to get the word out on Pope Francis' message on climate change Watch

Image of Environmental advocates, working with bishops, religious orders, Catholic universities, and lay movements hope that there will be a transformative impact in the fight against global warming.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis will release his anticipated teaching document on the environment and climate change in the coming weeks. Over the past several years, more faith traditions have rallied behind environmental protection. Churches have begun to press ecological ... continue reading


The Church Needs to Be Baptized Afresh in the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of Do I still believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available for ordinary Christians? You bet I do! I believe that Pentecost still happens. I KNOW it still happens. We can ALL know it still happens because we can experience its effects in our own lives. We should not be afraid of the Holy Spirit! In fact, we should regularly seek to be filled with more and more of the Spirit.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We need to pray for a New Pentecost for the Church in this hour! We need more of the Holy Spirit for the New Evangelization of the Church - so that a renewed Church can engage in the missionary task of the Third Christian Millennium. We need to be baptized afresh ... continue reading


Brotherhood of the Belt: Struggle, Trouble and Failure in the Christian Life Watch

Image of The Martyrdom of Peter

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Peter's wrong choices were not the end of the story of Gods plan for his life. Peter's denial crippled Peter emotionally and spiritually. He lost his way. That was until he encountered the Risen Christ. There, in that encounter, he allowed the belt of ... continue reading


The Purpose of Pentecost is the Birth and Ongoing Mission of the Church

Image of The purpose of Pentecost is the birth - and continued rebirth - of the Church.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Church was empowered by the Holy Spirit to live differently in the midst of a world awaiting the fullness of redemption, to live as a new people to lead the world back to the Father, in and through the Son. Through their experience of the Holy Spirit the early ... continue reading


Top 5 Roman Catholic colleges in the United States Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What constitutes being the best university is oftentimes subjective and usually in adherence to one's beliefs and practices. Choosing a college is one of the biggest decisions many people are making. Some opt for those that offer the best training in the fields of ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 44:1, 9-13
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
1 Alleluia! Sing a new song to Yahweh: his praise in ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 11:11-26
11 He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 29th, 2015 Image

St. Maximinus of Trier
May 29: Bishop of Trier, Germany, from 332, and a miracle worker. He was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter