God’s Love for the World

St. John, the beloved disciple of our Lord Jesus, penned words in his Gospel which some today claim are the most famous words found in the Bible (3:16-17):

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

St. Isaac of Nineveh offers in his own writings words which help us grasp what the eternal God’s love for the world means:

In love did God bring the world into existence;

in love does He guide it during its temporal existence;

in love is He going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state,

and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of Him who has performed all these things.

In love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised.”

(The Wisdom of St. Isaac of Ninevah, pg. 38)

The Nativity of the Theotokos (2012)

“The historical origins of the Feast appear to be linked with the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary the New in Jerusalem on 21st November 543; by the late seventh century it was celebrated throughout Jerusalem and in Constantinople by the early eight century. The observance of the Feast spread in the West during the Middle Ages; it was suppressed and then reinstated during the sixteenth century, and has survived recent revisions of the Roman Calendar, albeit in a rather attenuated form.”  (John Baggley, Festival Icons for the Christian Year, pg. 18)

“In fact, through the Gospel reading assigned for most Marian feastdays, the Church herself refutes those who emphasize the Theotokos’ significance as biologically and gender-defined. The Gospel reading is the Martha and Mary story from Luke 10:38-42, where Martha, the dutiful hostess, complains to Christ about Mary’s not helping her. Christ gently rebukes her for misplacing her priorities and says that Mary ‘has chosen the better part, which will not be taken from her.’ As if to drive the point home, the Church in her wisdom does not end the reading there, but appends verses 27-28 of the following chapter: ‘While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”’ The Church’s message is clear: the Theotokos is venerated not just because she is Jesus’ mother, but because she was attentive to God, which made her appropriate to become God’s chosen vessel.” (Valeria A. Karras in Thinking Through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars, pg. 151)