14 April 2010

The Wounds of Unfathomable Love

This reflection comes to us from the fourteenth-century mystic and Byzantine theologian, Nicholas Cabasilas. He shows that Christ’s love for humanity knows no bounds.

Two things are revealed about him who loves and prevails: one, that he in every possible way does good to the object of his love; the other, that he is willing, if need be, to endure terrible things for him and suffer pain. Of the two the latter would seem to be a far greater proof of friendship than the former. Yet it was not possible for God since He is incapable of suffering harm. Since He loves man it was possible for Him to confer benefits on him, yet it was not possible at all for the divine nature to suffer blows. While His affection was exceeding great, yet the sign by which He might make it plain was not available.

It was necessary, then, that the greatness of His love should not remain hidden, but that He should give proof of the greatest love and by loving display the utmost measure of love. Thus He devised this self-emptying and carried it out, and made the instrument, that is, Christ’s human nature, by which He might be able to endure terrible things and to suffer pain. When He had thus proved that He indeed loves exceedingly, by the things which He endured, He turned man towards Himself, who had fled from the Good One because he believed himself to be the object of hate.

But this is the most astounding thing of all: not only did He endure the most terrible pains and die from His Wounds, but also He came to life afterwards and raised up His Body from corruption. He still retained those Wounds. He bears the scars upon His Body and with them appears to the eyes of the angels; He regards them as an ornament and rejoices to show how He suffered terrible things. He saw fit to cherish them because of His affection for man, because by means of them He found him who was lost, and by being wounded He laid hold on him whom He loved.

What could be equal to that affection? What has a man ever loved so greatly? Who has ever been seized by such a mania of love for anything beautiful whatever, so that because of it he not only willingly allows himself to be wounded by the object of his love without swerving from his affection towards the ungrateful one, but even prizes the very wounds? Though these prove that He not only loves us but also that He greatly honours us, yet it belongs to the greatest honour that He is not ashamed even of the infirmities of our nature, but is seated on His royal Throne with the scars He acquired from human weakness.

While He so highly esteemed our nature He yet did not neglect us individually. He calls us to His own Crown; He has set us free from slavery and made us children. He has opened heaven to all and has shown us the way. Not content with this, He Himself leads the way and sustains us and encourages us when we slacken.