Knowing and loving Christ

OPUS DEI

WITH Christ, it is not enough to know him. We also have to love him. With Christ, to know him truly is to love him also. In fact, we cannot say we really know him unless we love him too.

With him, these two spiritual operations of ours merge into a unity, although they have different directions. In knowing, the object known is in the knower. It has an inward movement. The knower possesses the known object.

In loving, the lover is in the beloved. It has an outward movement. It is the beloved that possesses the lover. The lover gets identified with the beloved. The lover becomes what he loves.

In knowing, the knower abstracts things from his object of interest and keeps them to himself. In loving, the lover gives himself to the beloved. In a sense, the lover loses himself in the beloved.

Of course, there are many things that we know but which we do not have to love, or even that we should not love. We can know a lot of evils, but we should never love them. If anything at all, our knowledge of them is just for the sake of prudence.

But whatever good we know, we should also love, otherwise we would fall into some anomaly of inconsistency. In whatever is good, we should not be contented with knowing it. We should love it. Let’s remember what St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians in this regard:

“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (8,1-2)

And we can add that if one is known by God, he somehow already knows everything that he ought to know since God, who possesses him because he loves God, knows everything. In other words, he shares in the knowledge of God.

Since Christ is for us the highest good we can have, we should both know and love him to the max. We should not just know him and not love him, nor should we just love him without knowing him—or at least, trying to know him the best way that we can, since being God, Christ has aspects that are a mystery to us, that is, beyond our capacity to know him fully.

It’s when we love him with all our heart as we are commanded to do (cfr. Mt 22,37) that whatever inadequacy we have with respect to our knowledge of him, is taken care of. If our heart is united we the heart of God, that is, when we are in love with God, we in a mysterious way share in the omniscience of God.

That is why we can say that those simple people with great love and piety for God has greater knowledge of God than those erudite theologians and philosophers whose love and piety for God is not as great as those of the simple people, in spite of the fact that they may have studied the faith a lot more.

This does not mean that loving God with the heart more than the head is a matter of indulging in emotionalism and things like that. If one truly loves God with his whole heart, he also will do everything in his human capacity to study his faith well and to conform his life to that faith.

Loving God never compromises our rational nature that has both the intuitive and discursive capabilities. Loving God uses these capabilities to the hilt but also acknowledges the limitations of these human powers. Loving God, more than anything else, involves the role of grace that God himself unstintingly gives us but to which we have to correspond properly with our acts of piety.