The Practice of Divine Love

Early in Father Tony’s book Sanctuary of the Sacred Flame, there’s a little gem of a practice somewhat hidden in the Johannite Basics chapter. Father Tony introduces the practice by describing the important word, “agape”.

One very important part of Johannite spirituality is the concept of Divine Love, or Agape. We find this concept spelled out in the Gospel of John in Chapter 13, verses 34 and 35:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The word used here in the original Greek is Agape. In the original Greek meaning it refers to the love one has for one’s family or an activity (I love singing, for example). We narrow the meaning of Agape even further to refer to Divine Love. It is a kind of unconditional love that we strive to share with others. But love, especially Divine Love, must be experienced to be understood, and so this brings us to our first practice.

The Practice

In our daily lives we encounter many different people. Some we interact with more than others, like our families, co-workers, or fellow students. Other we don’t interact with much at all, like the other people on the streets, waiters at restaurants, clerks at cash registers, and many more. As Johannites we must acknowledge the Sacred Flame to be present in each and every one of them. Sometimes this can be difficult. People will cut you off in traffic. Someone may speak to you unkindly. But you have to remember that the outer mask of personality that you see when you interact with someone is not the most true expression of that person. Each person is, at his or her core, an expression of the Sacred Flame, and if you start to treat them as such, your own outlook will start to change. This is the beginning of a very important step on your spiritual journey.

This practice is very simple but extremely difficult to master. Try to remember, with each person you see every day, to consciously think to yourself “I love you.” You don’t need to say it out loud, of course, but really project a sense of love to the person, from your heart directly to theirs. You can also try to visualize a Flame burning in each of your hearts, and they each glow a little brighter when you interact. The Sacred Flame is only one, even though it appears to be separate in each of us. By reaffirming that link we have with all of humanity we raise the awareness of all beings. This must be done unconditionally and the goal here is for that feeling to become automatic. Try to remember to share your Divine Love with every person you see. It will cause a profound change in the way you view the world, if you let it.

Love returns us to Divine unity. To Day One, when all dwelt in God. I warmly commend this practice to you!


Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

Tim Mansfield
Bishop of New South Wales
Bishop Tim is the rector of the Parish of St Uriel the Archangel in Sydney and Bishop of New South Wales. He serves on the Apostolic Council of the AJC. He was ordained in 2008 and consecrated to the episcopacy in 2012.
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