Dogmatic theology is a funny thing. I assume most people who even know what the phrase refers to think of it as, if not just boring, then certainly theoretical, abstract, and removed from the concerns of daily life. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Take the venerable Patristic and Scholastic doctrine that God is not ens summum, but ipsum esse subsistens, not the highest kind of being there is, but the sheer act of “to be” itself. The mystery of existence is the most profound there is in philosophy: why, according to the old saw, is there something rather than nothing? God is not the first link in the long chain of being, but rather he is that chain itself. Our being is participation in the fullness of Being that is God. (And it is striking that the best answer given by philosophy to the question of the divine nature is also the answer given by the Bible: this is what is meant by the Tetragrammaton, God’s biblical name, YHWH, I Am Who I Am, I Am Who Is, I Am What Is…)
That sounds very nice, but, well, so what?
Well, who is God?
According to the Christian Tradition, He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Another dogma: the Holy Trinity. From all eternity, the Father graciously imparts His own divine nature to the Son, begetting Him from all eternity out of sheer love, generosity, and freedom, and the Son freely responds in love, in the ruach, the breath of the Holy Spirit. God’s very nature is this gift, this perichoresis, this dance of love between the Divine Persons. This is what it means to say that God is Love. Love is not a feeling, primarily, it is the act of the will of willing the good of the other as other, for their own sake. And it is the nature, not only of God’s relationship towards the created order, but also of God’s inner life.Ok. Fine. So what?
Well, if God is the very act of Being itself, and if God is gift and love, it means that to be is to love. And to be is to give.
We all believe that to be, in the fullness of the sense, is to be self-sufficient. One who is dependent on others, in some sense, exists less than one who is perfectly self-sufficient.
But the very metaphysical structure of the Universe and all that there is says the exact opposite. Do you want to be? Do you want to experience the fullness of being, do you want to be all that you can be? Then love. Then give, freely.
It is sometimes said that he who gives a lot receives a lot. Maybe, maybe not. But to give a lot is to be a lot, to climb towards the fullness of life, and existence.
All of us, at at least one point in our life, will be hit by a freight train. All of us will at one point have to rebuild our lives, and our broken selves, from broken shards. And at that point, we will be lost, aimless, and confused.
To be, give.