The first words of Holy Scripture introduce us to a new world, created by God. It is a world in which Time begins to exist. The words “In the beginning” convey a concept wholly dependent on the existence of time. Indeed, before this “beginning” referred to in the first verse of Genesis there was no time. But that is not to say that before time began there was nothing. There was, and had always been, an eternity in which God had existed. In that eternal existence God had enjoyed the perfection of his own loving and triune Being, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, supremely complete in his divine essence.
God never “needed” to create the world. He never “needed” man. So why did he create us? Let’s think for a moment of God’s eternal and perfect fullness without man. Now let’s jump from that thought to the image of the hands and feet of the divine Son of God being nailed to a cross in order to save this mankind he could so happily never have created. Here is the true mystery of God’s love, one that we can only marvel at and accept with true humility.
Having done so, we must then proceed to practical thoughts. What is required of us by God in return for the gift of our existence? What must we do to make reparation for hammering those nails through the mortal Body of an immortal God? What does God ask of us if we are to be the creatures he wants us to be?
The answer is clear, certain, and supremely sufficient. In return for God’s love in creating us, we must love him in return with all our heart and mind and soul. God wants our love. Why? Because it is only through love that we truly reflect the divine essence of God. We were made in his image and likeness, and so if “God is love” then it follows that our own love can be nothing other than a reflection, no matter how pale and imperfect, of that divine love.
Any real love that we as humans have cannot have as its chief object anyone or anything other than God. To entertain such love, to place such an object or person above God would be a perversion of what love truly is. Indeed, this is the first of the commandments given to Moses, that “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” If we do love our neighbor, we do so because God loves our neighbor. We love our neighbor for God’s sake, whether that neighbor be our spouse, parent, child, or enemy. And the same goes for our love of, or attachment to, any material creature—we should love them only insofar as they draw us nearer to God.
Here then is the essence of love, that it reflects the Divine Essence of God. As the triune Godhead is an eternal love that unites the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, so our own virtue of love unites us with that same Divine Being. And if we love well, that union of God and man shall be our ultimate destiny. It is the reason God made us, to be happy in union with him in his eternal presence.