The Scandal of Love: The Unstoppable Passion of God

About this article

One of the Church fathers preaches on the overwhelming and surprising power of God's love for us and his demand for our love.
Saint Peter Chrysologus (406-450) was a man of passion. Often times, we look back at the saints and strip them of their power. They can become still pictures, of sorts. These pictures reveal beauty, yet they remain static. Such mental images belie the radical, almost scandalous manner in which these disciples lived the Good News. Saint Peter Chysologus' sermons reveal such a passionate scandal.

Chrysologus recalls the fear felt by the patriarchs. Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Moses were each touch by the paralytic grip of fear. However the power of a loving God violently drove out such fear. God is love. Chrysologus describes a love that is itself terrifying. The saint says love is completely irrational. Love inflames. Love cannot be consoled and knows no moderation. It seeks the object of its desire and will ultimately destroy the lover if the beloved is not embraced. Love does not discern what is right or wrong. Love's only concern is satisfaction. Time and time again, love pursued the patriarchs. Despite their propensity for fear and apprehension, love won. In fact, love captured them, inflamed their hearts and propelled them toward God. Captured by God's loving embrace, Moses boldly demanded to see the Lord. Captured by God's loving embrace, David demanded the Lord to show His face. Perfect love drove out all fear. Their yearning desire for God dispelled even the fear of God. God alone became their desire.

Chrysologus challenges us to give up comfortable notions about God's love. Will we merely see God as favorable disposed towards us? Or will we give up this notion and see God as ravenous for us. Will we give up control and allow our hearts to be consumed by God? Then, when we fall into His loving embrace, are we ready to radically and scandalously love Him?


Copyright © 2009 Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this article to be freely used for classroom or campus ministry purposes; however, it may not be republished in any form without the explicit permission of Saint Mary's Press. For more resources to support your ministry, call 800-533-8095 or visit our Web site at

Published August 15, 2003.