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Musings From Mountains and Valleys-Advent 4

Faith means the fundamental response to the love that has offered itself up for me. It thus becomes clear that faith is ordered primarily to the inconceivability of God's love, which surpasses us and anticipates us. Love alone is credible; nothing else can be believed, and nothing else ought to be believed. This is the achievement, the 'work' of faith: to recognize this absolute prius, which nothing else can surpass; to believe that there is such a thing as love, absolute love, and that there is nothing higher or greater than it……Truth and love are inseparable wings—for truth cannot fly without love—and love cannot hover without truth”

― Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone is Credible

Abruptly ending nine months of silence after the birth of his son John, Zechariah speaks the second prophetic song of Luke’s birth narrative. Echoing Mary’s announcing the advent of God fulfilling his promises to Israel, he lays out both the mission of the coming Messiah and his son John’s role as the prophet of preparation. The “hymn” ends with the phrase “through the tender mercy of our God.” It is a rather unique pairing of Greek words to convey the idea that all that is about to happen has its source in the loving faithfulness and character of the God of Israel.

Whether it is implied or stated explicitly, God’s mercy, justice, and love are the same act. That in part is what makes God’s love so radically different than the sentimentality of our age that masquerades as love. The somber call to repentance is the necessary precursor to soften human hearts for the genuine gift of Divine love.

This week we will light the candle of love; “love that creates and remakes us.”

Our English word “love” is not comprehensive enough to convey who God is and what God desires to give us. It is this idea of love and grace combined that conveys something of God’s “tender mercies” given to us in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. This is the summation of the holy mystery of what we celebrate and believe: The “love alone” that is credible.


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