Let Us Love One Another...

St Archilius

My beloved spiritual children in Christ,

"Let us love one another..." (St. John Chrysostom Divine Liturgy)

Mutual love and unity is necessary among Christians. Without it a person is Christian in name only. Tertulian tells us that pagans said about the Christians: "Look at how much they love each other!" (Tertullian, Apology 39). "Without unity and mutual love as one spiritual family the faithful cannot 'with one mind' confess the Triune God."

"...that with one mind..."

"In oneness of mind," "in harmony," "in unanimity," "in one accord." "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 132 [133):1). What is greater and more desirable than being in concord and agreement, especially in matters of faith?--Because that is the subject of our confession: faith. Such was the bond among the first Christians: "They were all with one heart gathered in the same place" (Acts 2:1. Cf. also 1:14, 2:46).

The unity of the Christians is accomplished "in Christ." This two-word Pauline expression captures the Christian unity in its fullness. We are all "one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). This unity is accomplished in its highest form in our participation in the common Cup.

"...we may confess:

Christians are those who have and declare the same faith. One does not "confess" his or her faith, but declares to share a common faith with others. Unity of faith among Christians is essential. "Since brotherly love goes hand in hand with love of God, and love of God is not found without faith in the Living and Perfect God, the priest, as soon as he has reminded us of love, and urged us to love one another, begins the profession of faith." "Without love for one another we cannot appeal to God, nor can we accept and enjoy His grace."

People: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Trinity one in essence and inseparable.

The exhortation "Let us love one another" is made so that we may immediately after offer our confession of faith to the Holy Trinity. However, it may be seen as introducing the Confession or Symbol of Faith (Creed). We cannot make a true confession of faith unless we first reconcile ourselves with one another in the unity and bond of love. And vice versa, we cannot have true love for one another unless we have true faith. True faith and true love are two sides fo the same coin, the coin being the true Christian.

Love is the characteristic of a Christian, the identifying mark of a follower of Christ: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (St. John 13:34-35). Christian love is the love members of the same family have for one another, for we are the family of God. "Love the brotherhood," says St. Peter (1 Peter 2:17), that is, the family of believers. Thus "united in love" (Col. 2:2) we may "abound in love for one another and for all" (1 Thes. 3:12).

What kind of love are we called to have for one another? Many people talk about love, but it is not the love the Church bids us to have for one another. Christian love is not sentimentalism and vague feelings. It is action. It is manifested through the obedience of God's Commandments: "Abide in My love. If you keep My Commandments, you will abide in My love,' says the Lord (St. John 15:9-10). And the beloved disciple confirms, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His Commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey His Commandments" (1 John 5:2-3 Cf. also, 2 John 6). And which is the Commandment that the Lord calls His? To love each other as Christ loved us, "unto death, even the Death of the Cross" (Phil. 2:8). This is the love we care called to imitate.

(Source: The Heavenly Banquet: Understanding the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis)

With agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George