Our first reading today starts at verse nineteen of Chapter Five of the First Letter of St. John. I’d like to read a statement John twice made earlier in that chapter. In verse eight, then again in verse seventeen John made the simple statement, “God is love.” It was as though he was telling us that God is more a verb than a noun.
I don’t know what John meant be saying God is love, but I’d like to make a guess, seeing two parts to it. The first part involves clearly seeing the goodness of an object. The second part would be letting oneself be drawn completely to that object.
To fully see the goodness of any object one must be free of addictions to rival objects. Then, letting oneself to be drawn involves freedom from addiction to contrary object which we mistakenly take as good.
There is a good story involving St. Francis de Sales and God’s love. Back around 1590 when Francis was doing post-grad work in Paris, he fell in with a group of Calvinists who somehow convinced him that he was one of the non-elect whom God had created only to damn.
Convinced of his damnation, Francis took to bed for days. Then, not being able to support his sorrow, he lurched through Paris, stumbling then into a church, where he fell on the stone floor before a statue of Mary. After lying there for a time, the words “God is love” occurred to Francis.
Letting the full import of that sink in, Francis arose convinced that our loving God could not have made him for eternal punishment. He went on from that experience with the feeling that he in turn must love all of God’s children.