We like to quantify things. We want to measure whether we are advancing or falling behind. Maybe that’s why a particular statement caught my attention while I was praying the Office of Readings early one morning. The passage was from “On Spiritual Perfection,” written almost 1,600 years ago by Marcus Diadochus, a saintly monk in northern Greece who later became the Bishop of Photice and participated in the Council of Chalcedon.
Diadochus begins, “Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God.” He’s repeating Scripture: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (I Jn 4:10).
Then he comes to the gauge of our love for God. “In fact, the measure of your love for God depends on how deeply aware you are of God’s love for you.” The measure of your love for God is the degree of your realization, awareness, consciousness, and appreciation of God’s personal love for you.
Proof of Love
We are surrounded by abundant evidence of God’s love for us. We need to look around in nature and reflect on the people in our lives and count the ways. Of course, the primary source is the Bible.
“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (Is 49:15).
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” Over and over again, St. Paul is in awe of God’s love. For his followers in Ephesus, his blessing is that “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him” (Eph 3:17).
St. Paul’s deep realization of God’s love for him and his wholehearted return of that love is a good example of the “measure” proposed by Diadochus. The more deeply aware we are of God‘s love of us, the more we are motivated and inspired to love God in return.
Call to Action
We want to know how much we love God—not to brag or congratulate ourselves—but to spur us to grow in our love of God. Diadochus motivates me to mediate more on the ocean of God’s love for me, so I love God more in return.
Diadochus gives us one way of measuring how much we love God. The First Letter of John gives us another measure—how much we love each other. “If anyone says ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother [or sister] whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” and sister (I Jn 4:20–21).
Dear Friar Jim: I teach RCIA, and I had not looked at this bit of Scripture quite like that. This was interesting, and I appreciate that you shared this perspective. Sandy
A: Dear Sandy: Understanding the Scriptures in a new and wonderful way is something like the lepers’ lives. We’ve heard the Scriptures many times; it just take time and a particular occurrence for us to grasp their deeper meaning. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: Thank you for showing us the different perspective on the other nine lepers. You are truly gifted! The other nine lepers is a perfect example of why God does not want us to judge others. Things are not always as they seem. Colleen
A: Dear Colleen: Yes, that’s true. Judging others clouds our minds so that we cannot see the good in others. As Jesus said, it’s difficult to see others clearly with the two-by-four in our own eye. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: Thank you for the reminder that we don’t always see the grace in the moment. Grace is there, but we are not aware of it. Thank you for the reminder that Scripture is always living and unfolding. How many times have I heard this Gospel, yet today I have a new “aha.” Christine
A: Dear Christine: Just think: God works in us even when we are unaware of it. Jesus did not reject his healing of the other nine lepers because they did not return. God is patient in allowing his gifts in us to blossom even if we are slow at times. Friar Jim