...by Oswald Sobrino, M.A. (Theology)
I. How central is God’s love in Paul’s writings?
A. Substance of Our Salvation
Romans 5:1-5 RSV Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. [Emphasis added in this and all subsequent quotations.]
(See Catechism, 733.)
B. Concretely Proven in the Death of Jesus
Rom. 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
C. Concretely Manifested in Our Lives
Rom. 8:28 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
II. Is God’s Love Directed to Me Personally?
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
1 Timothy 1:13-16 though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; 16 but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
Pope Benedict XVI (General Audience, Sept. 3, 2008, as reported by VIS):
For us, the Holy Father concluded, Christianity "is not a new philosophy or a new form of morality. We are only Christians if we encounter Christ, even if He does not reveal Himself to us as clearly and irresistibly as he did to Paul in making him the Apostle of the Gentiles. We can also encounter Christ in reading Holy Scripture, in prayer, and in the liturgical life of the Church - touch Christ's heart and feel that Christ touches ours. And it is only in this personal relationship with Christ, in this meeting with the Risen One, that we are truly Christian".
III. What is the Relationship of the Holy Spirit to God’s Love?
A. The Proof of Our Adoption as Children of God:
Rom. 8:14-16 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
B. The Means of Our Salvation in Christ:
Titus 3:3-6 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; 4 but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
C. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, Distinction 10, “The Holy Spirit as Love,” Art. 2:
“because the Father loves the Son, the Holy Spirit can be called the love of the Father into the Son, and because the Son loves the Father, He can be called the love of the Son into the Father.”
IV. Discussion Questions:
A. How have you personally experienced God’s love in your life circumstances?
B. What does it mean to have a personal relationship with God?
C. How crucial to your whole Christian life is your relationship with God the
Holy Spirit? Or is the Holy Spirit the “Great Unknown” in your life?
Paul’s Cry of the Heart