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godisloveI’m beginning to think like a broken record as I read the First Letter of John but it’s really John who’s responsible for that. The letter is repetitious; that’s clear. It’s all about love. There’s something else, though, that’s happening as I read. It’s becoming a bit of a language lesson about transitive and intransitive verbs (specifically the verb to be) and abstract nouns. Here’s what I mean. Beloved, if God so loved us, we must also love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet if we love one another, God remains in us, and God’s love is brought to perfection in us. (1 JN 4:11-12) Okay so far, but later comes the following: God is love…(vs.16). It doesn’t say God shows love (although that appears frequently elsewhere). It doesn’t say God has love for us (We find that too in lots of places.) but rather God is love. “The verb to be never takes an object,” the nuns taught me. Anything that follows am, is, are is called a “predicate nominative” and refers back to the subject. In other words, what precedes the verb and what follows it are the same. But, I counter, love is an abstract noun, impossible to concretize, and we’re talking about a person. (Light dawns slowly in this early morning mind…) God is not a person in the same way we are; spirits are hard to see even if possible to perceive. Ah, but therein lies the crux of the matter. In order to see the personification of love – the example we need to become like God as God is – we need a concrete person, a flesh and blood being, a human being like us. That is Jesus, the personification of God’s love. If that sounds like circular reasoning or just an attempt to show of my early education, so be it. Just hearing “God is love” might be enough for some. But the grammar lesson works for me and calls me to make an intention to go back to the gospels and to contemplation in order to see how Jesus lived and how he manifested the love of God which surpasses our understanding but calls for our best attempts at imitation.