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The Love of God Contrasted with the Love of the World

Leo the GreatSt. Leo the Great: “There are two loves from which all wishes proceed, and they are as different in quality as they are different in their sources. For the reasonable soul, which cannot exist without love, is the lover either of God or the world. In the love of God there is no excess, but in the love of the world all is hurtful. Therefore we must cling inseparably to eternal treasures, but things temporal we must use like passers-by, so that as sojourners hastening to return to our own land, all the good things of this world which meet us may be as aids on the way, not snares to detain us….

“As the world attracts us with its appearance and abundance and variety, it is not easy to turn away from it unless in the beauty of things visible the Creator rather than the creature is loved; for, when He says, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37),’ He wishes us in nothing to loosen ourselves from the bonds of His love. And when He links the love of our neighbor also to this command, He enjoins on us the imitation of His own goodness, that we should love what He loves and do what He does. For although ‘we are God’s fellow workers and God’s building (1 Cor. 3:9),’ and ‘neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:7),’ yet in all things He requires our ministry and service, and wishes us to be the stewards of His gifts, so that he who bears God’s image may do God’s will.

“For this reason, in the Lord’s prayer we say most devoutly, ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).’ For what else do we ask for in these words but that God may subdue those whom He has not yet subdued, and that as in heaven He makes the angels ministers of His will, so also on earth He may make men. And in seeking this we love God, and we also love our neighbor; and the love within us has but one Object, since we desire the bond-servant to serve and the Lord to have rule.” (Leo the Great, Sermon XC, ch. 3, Scripture: RSVCE)

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