Such Love

Angela Xu • Flickr •

23 Pentecost, November 12

Josh. 24:1-3a, 14-25 or Wis. 6:12-16 or Amos 5:18-24
Ps. 78:1-7 or Wis. 6:17-20 or Ps. 70
1 Thess. 4:13-18Matt. 25:1-13

A call to the one true God is a call from love itself seeking love’s fulfillment in the elect. It is good to hear God, to obey, and to follow, precisely because God is the ground of our true being; God forgives and purges and infuses with grace, grafting his saints into the perfect life of Christ. This is the life worth living, and the only true life we have. All things come of thee, Oh Lord. God calls in a way that inclines the heart (Josh. 24:23). God awakes a responding love in the deepest center of one’s being. This is what it means to present yourself before God, to hear an inner call and feel the wound of love’s response. And with this fresh wound one inevitably feels resistance, a universe of counter-claims, ancient gods, and present idolatries. And so desire must be awakened to new depths, a desire for God alone. God calls and listens for words like these: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods” (Josh. 24:16).

God speaks in his Word. Jesus is the Word and Wisdom of God. He is radiant and unfading, loving and calling in love. He awakens disciples who learn to love and seek and desire. He meets those whom he calls in every moment (Wis. 6:12-16). “Come, follow me,” he says, and with his call he fixes thought and desire on himself, that is, perfect understand; for he is all that the Father is.

Jesus tells a story about those who love him, and those who in the end do not. “Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps” (Matt. 25:1-4). The bridegroom was delayed, the women slept, and then, suddenly, there was a shout. The bridegroom came at midnight, that is, an unexpected hour. The wise, having a reserve of oil, trimmed their wicks and went out to meet him. The foolish went away to buy oil, missed the bridegroom, and were shut out of the banquet. The wise carry in flasks something we might call the oil of gladness, a vigilant desire always to meet the bridegroom at whatever hour. This not an oil merchants can sell, this is a precious inward anointing, the gift of God (St. Augustine, Sermon XLIII, Sermons on New Testament Lessons). The wise are those who love much and yearn deeply and keep vigil. This is deep down love.

Only God can awaken this love, and he awakens love by giving it. Still, an open hand and an open heart must take it. Freely accepted, the oil of God is an abyss of love and desire and vigilance. He who endures to the end will be saved.

Let love and desire deepen. Do not be embarrassed by love. Augustine writes: “Watch with the heart, watch with faith, watch with hope, watch with love, watch with good works; and then, when thou shalt sleep in thy body, the time will come when thou shalt rise. And when thou shalt have risen, make ready the lamps. … Then shall the Bridegroom fold thee in his spiritual embrace, then shall he bring thee into his house, where thou shalt never sleep, where thy lamp shall never be extinguished.”

God wants all our love and desire and yearning. “Oh God, you have made us for yourself, and we are restless until we rest in thee” (Augustine, Confessions).

Look It Up
Read Joshua 24:1.

Think About It
Love pours out from a broken and contrite heart.


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