Friday, March 2, 2012

Homily 37: Love and Holiness (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"And may the Lord make you to increase and abound in the end that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness...." I Thess. 3 (vs. 12-13)

There is a sacred bond and intimate connection that love has with holiness, with the otherness of God, for love is not a human invention. It does not even do it justice to call it a discovery. It is more like a revolution. Love falls upon humanity like a clap of thunder or erupts from amidst it with volcanic violence. In blatant opposition to the dark instincts of survival and domination that to this day drive the bestial side of mankind, there comes a voice and notion piercing through, wholly alien and yet wholly welcome, a passion that in its finest and truest manifestations places the self on the lowest rung and places another on the highest in an act that seems nigh to worship. Indeed, it inspires worship, whether in ceremony or in song; for mankind's instinct to survive has always been natural, but love has always been divine.

God is love, not in an accidental sense of His actions but in an essential sense of His existence. Love is His very being, which is to say that it is His holiness, the very quality of His otherness that makes Him separate and unique and above us. For us, love is lovely but seemingly foreign to our natures, a transplanted essence from other realms; but God knows no such division in Himself. His persons dance so fully in love's purest reality and expression that we cannot help but call them one, for they are one. Love pulls together perfectly (Col. 3:14), binding all together in a harmonious whole by its continuous deference to another, to the beloved. Its deference is its unity: therein is the paradox and the beauty. Sin is separation (Matt. 7:23, 25:41) and isolation of the self (Is. 14:13-14): therein lies the terror and the reason for why holiness can never know sin, for sin cannot abide its communion. To be freed from sin, to be holy, is to be one with Love: not our love, our vapid, shallow, half-halting indifference masquerading as tolerance; but love fierce and faithful and everlasting. The love of God and the God who is love. Amen.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2012

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