Protopresbyter Dr Georgios Lekkas is a priest of the Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Belgium
According to Saint Maximus, the Holy Angels live in peace because they have love for God and for each other, and this is also true for humans.
Divine love and human love are not the same. The double commandment to love is dependent on divine love rather than human love.
Humans were made (as were Angels) to mirror divine love and to love each other out of an overflow of divine love.
Therefore true love towards God and our fellow man is nothing else than the love that God gives us when we open our hearts to Him. Thus love for God and love for our fellow man is only true love when it is love that originates in God.
However, there are at least two differences between love for God and love for our fellow man, one explicit and one implicit. The explicit difference is that love for God is without conditions and reservations, whereas our love for our fellow man is only divine when we love our fellow man as we ought to love ourselves. The implicit difference is that perfect love for our fellow man is dependent on our absolute love for God.
Our love for God must be absolute because God is the only person worthy of worship. Worship of persons other than God risks becoming idolatry. The evident truth is that in order to protect us from this danger God willed that the measure of our love for our fellow man should be the love we have for ourselves, while our love for God, if it is real, ought to be unlimited and unconditional.
Our love for God brings the peace of God within us, and then we easily recognize that in order for there to be peace between people, each of us must sacrifice something of ourselves for the love of the other. Thus while each man’s desire to dominate others brings war and hatred, each man’s yielding to the other brings peace and love.
Indeed, when our yielding to the other is a conscious sacrifice to the God of Love who sacrificed Himself on the Cross for us, then our self-sacrifice increases our love for God and as a result we become even more open-hearted to our fellow man. Therefore, anyone wishing to know how much they truly love God, need only discern if they are truly conciliatory to their neighbour.
Likewise, if we wish to determine whether our love for our fellow human beings is the perfect love that only God can give, St Maximus again bids us consider whether we love them all equally or whether we love some more and others less. In other words, when our love for our fellow human beings is divine love, we love them all equally, we desire the salvation of all, we desire to embrace them all without exception and fall with them at the feet of the One who sacrificed Himself for all. Let this love become our life.
Sunday, Matthew XV, 4.2.24.