LOVE DEMANDS LOVE
It can seem a strange proposition to command someone to love you. Our experience is that we either fall in love whether we want to or not, or else love blossoms as the result of kinship or other social ties. If someone came up to you and commanded you to love them, you are more likely to do the opposite and consider the person a tad mad.
And yet, is it not also our experience that love has a quality of obligation, imperative or duty, even? When all things are equal, what child is not obliged to love its parents? What mother is not obliged to love the child in her womb?
This obligation, though, is not something imposed by an external rule. It comes from the very nature of love. When love is especially the love known as ‘agape’, or self-sacrificing love, the person who possesses it simply must do, and even risk, everything for the one loved. He experiences it as an all-consuming need and as an absolute must. It is not that the beloved is asking for this or demanding it. No, it is the very nature and dynamism of agape itself that it simply cannot not surrender everything to and for the sake of the beloved.
This is the kind of love with which the Blessed Trinity loves us. It’s the only way the Trinity knows how to love! It is each of the Three Divine Persons who first loves the Others with alltheir divine being. In then turning Their love outwards by creating each and every human being, all Three Divine Persons love each single one of us with the entirety of the same love with which They love One Another. All other forms of love (the drive of eros, the closeness of friendship, etc.) are all “splinters” off, and of, the Divine Love.
So, it makes total sense that the Divine Agape of which we are recipients should not only adorn and confer bliss on each individual, but that in imitation of the Trinity, that love should overflow between human beings and above all be returned in kind to God. Christ’s commandment to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength is simply the commandment for us to be who we really are: living and agape-loving images of Himself. It is this love of which we are then agents in our love for others. To love ourselves, therefore, is to know ourselves possessed by the Divine Agape.
God is love. We are God’s image. Therefore, we are love, too. Agape is our origin, our identity, our being, our life, our activity, our method and our destiny.