Monday, January 28, 2013

Gehenna - the Torment of God's Love (St. Isaac the Syrian)


From Ascetical Homilies 27:

- "In love did God bring the world into existence; in love is God going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of the One who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised."

- "God’s recompense to sinners is that, instead of a just recompense, God rewards them with resurrection."

- "If zeal had been appropriate for putting humanity right, why did God the Word clothe himself in the body, using gentleness and humility in order to bring the world back to his Father?"

- "Let us not be in doubt, O fellow humanity, concerning the hope of our salvation, seeing that the One who bore sufferings for our sakes is very concerned about our salvation; God’s mercifulness is far more extensive than we can conceive, God’s grace is greater than what we ask for."

- "Sin, Gehenna, and Death do not exist at all with God, for they are effects, not substances. Sin is the fruit of free will. There was a time when sin did not exist, and there will be a time when it will not exist. Gehenna is the fruit of sin…"

From Ascetical Homilies 48:

- "As for me I say that those who are tormented in Gehenna are tormented by the invasion of love. What is there more bitter and violent than the pains of love? Those who feel they have sinned against love bear in themselves a damnation much heavier than the most dreaded punishments. The suffering with which sinning against love afflicts the heart is more keenly felt than any other torment. It is absurd to assume that the sinners in Gehenna are deprived of God’s love."

- "Love is offered impartially. But by its very power it acts in two ways. It torments sinners, as happens here on earth when we are tormented by the presence of a friend to whom we have been unfaithful. And it gives joy to those who have been faithful."

- "That is what the torment of Gehenna is in my opinion: remorse. But love inebriates the souls of the sons and daughters of heaven by its delectability."

- "This is the aim of Love. Love’s chastisement is for correction, but it does not aim at retribution…But the man who considers God an avenger, presuming that he bears witness to His justice, the same accuses Him of being bereft of goodness. Far be it, that vengeance could ever be found in that Fountain of love and Ocean brimming with goodness! The aim of His design is the correction of men."

From Ascetical Homilies 51:

- "Even in the matter of afflictions — the judgment of Gehenna, say — there bides a hidden mystery, whereby the Maker has taken as a starting point our patent willfulness, using even Gehenna as a way of bringing to perfection His greater dispensation. If the world to come proves entirely the realm of mercy, love, and goodness, how then a final state that claims requital for its measure?"

- "God is not One who requites [i.e. requires payback for] evil, but He is One who sets evil right."

- "That we should think that Gehenna is not also full of love and mingled with compassion would be an insult to our God. By saying He will deliver us to suffering without purpose, we most surely sin. We blaspheme also if we say that He will act with spite or with a vengeful purpose, as if He had a need to avenge Himself."

- "Do not call God just, for His justice is not manifest in the things concerning you. And if David calls Him just and upright, His Son revealed to us that He is good and kind. ‘He is good’, He says ‘to the evil and to the impious.’ How can you call God just when you come across the Scriptural passage on the wage given to the workers?…How can a man call God just when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son who wasted his wealth with riotous living, how for the compunction alone which he showed, the father ran and fell upon his neck and gave him authority over all his wealth?…Where, then, is God's justice, for while we are sinners Christ died for us!"


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