“Open the Bible at any page and you will find it extolling love”

I know, beloved, how well fed you are every day by the exhortations of Holy Scripture, and what nourishment your hearts find in the word of God. Nevertheless, the affection we have for one another compels me to say something to you, beloved, about love. What else is there to speak of apart from love? To speak about love there is no need to select some special passage of Scripture to serve as a text for the homily; open the Bible at any page and you will find it extolling love. We know this so from the Lord himself, as the gospel reminds us, for when asked what were the most important commandments of the law he answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And then, just in case you might be tempted to search further through the pages of Holy Scripture for some commandments other than these two, he added: “The entire law and the prophets also depend upon these two commandments.” If the entire law and the prophets depend upon these two commandments, how much more must the gospel do so?

People are renewed by love. As sinful desire ages them, so love rejuvenates them. Enmeshed in the toils of his desires the psalmist laments: “I have grown old surrounded by my enemies.” Love, on the other hand, is the sign of our renewal as we know from the lord’s own words. “I gave you a new commandment—love one another.”

Even in former times there were people who loved God without thought of reward, and whose hearts were purified by their chaste longing for him. They drew back the veils obscuring the ancient promises, and caught a glimpse through these figures of a new covenant to come. They saw that all the precepts and promises of the old covenant, geared to the capacities of an unregenerate people, prefigured a new covenant which the Lord would bring to fulfillment in the last age. The Apostle says this quite clearly: “The things that happened to them were symbolic, and were recorded for us who are living in the last age.” When the time for it came the new covenant began to be openly proclaimed, and those ancient figures were expounded and explained so that all might understand that the old covenant promises pointed to the new covenant.

And so love was present under the old covenant just as it is under the new, though then it was more hidden and fear was more apparent, whereas now love is more clearly seen and fear is diminished. For as love grows stronger we feel more secure; and when our feeling of security is complete, fear vanishes, since, as the apostle John declares, “Perfect love casts our fear.”

St Augustine of Hippo

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7 Responses to “Open the Bible at any page and you will find it extolling love”

  1. john zande says:

    open the Bible at any page and you will find it extolling love.

    “Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all, old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple.” So they began by killing the seventy leaders. “Defile the Temple!” the LORD commanded. “Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!” So they went throughout the city and did as they were told.” (Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT)

    Does that page count?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Assume you are a preacher and are assigned this text. How do you preach it as gospel?

      St Augustine, as well as the rest of the Church Fathers, were acquainted with all the hard texts, yet they insisted that the entirety of the Bible nonetheless speaks of Christ. That’s the challenge of preaching. It requires that one read the Scriptures through a hermeneutic of Pascha.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Iain Lovejoy says:

        How about: this isn’t a description of a thing that happened but a description of a vision given to the prophet Ezekiel by God to take to Jerusalem to warn them they were facing destruction in the starkest possible terms, and give them even at this late stage and despite their sins an escape. The Chaldeans were on their way, the city had rejected God and prayed to anything and everything but him, and still God in his mercy tries to turn them aside.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Open the Bible at any page and you will find it extolling love”
    Simply not true

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes you are right on that. I hand wrote the entire NT last year. love did go into each page.

    Like

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