Between Life and Death: Choose Life, Choose Love

26 Nov
Hell Hieronymus Bosch

Hell Hieronymus Bosch

At the beginning of Dante’s Inferno, most readers are struck by an odd claim: the building of hell was an expression of God’s “primal love.” Hell, the place of eternal punishment, unquenchable fire, demons, and all the rest; Love built that! People do not like to talk about hell very much these days. It seems to be a nasty vestige of an old world, left behind with ruler-swinging nuns, and talk about sin. At The Heart of the Matter, we try to present the ‘Amen’ of the Church, the joy of the Good News. But for Dante, Hell was part of the Good News of Christ.

How can this be so? In 2nd Corinthians, Paul makes clear that Jesus Christ is not “yes and no, but in him it is always yes.” Yes to God the Father and yes to each person. The Kingdom of God is open to every person. But people do not always respond “yes.” So often we say no–no to God and no to our brothers and sisters.

Where does hell fit into this? God made us for love and joy in Him and with each other. Love yearns for the other to say yes but it lets the other say no. No one is forced to enter hell; people choose it. In Deuteronomy, God says to us, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:therefore choose life.” We are made for living and for blessing. We are made for the Kingdom. However, Love does not compel; rather, Love offers a choice.

This still seems almost unfair. If a person offers us love and we say “no thanks,” that doesn’t mean hell for us. Why is saying “no” to God’s love so different? Because God is Love, is Joy, is Goodness. Every time we meet love, joy, and goodness we are finding traces of God. Our joy is found entirely in God. Our lives flow out of His goodness and we can only find our fulfillment by flowing back into God’s goodness. To reject God, is to reject the source and summit of all our hopes.

How do we choose life and blessing? To chose God by having faith in His Love. What does this mean? In John’s 1st letter, he writes, “He who loves his brother or sister, is in the light.” What is the light? God and His Kingdom.  John writes again, “He who hates his brother or sister is in the darkness.” To truly love God is to love Love and therefore to love each person we meet. Hell is not just isolation from God but from everyone; a darkness in which we no longer see or care for each other.

God gives us a choice. Because, God loves us, God gives us freedom. Through God’s grace we are called to fulfill our freedom, to become the image of Jesus’ total ‘yes.’ A ‘yes’ to God that encompasses each person we meet in our life. In the end, we are offered blessing, joy, fulfillment, and life. Choose life, choose love, choose God.

– Terence Sweeney

One Response to “Between Life and Death: Choose Life, Choose Love”

  1. savvylegacy November 26, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Reblogged this on Savvy Legacy.

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