“Let us love, because he loved us first” (I Jn 4:19). For how could we love unless he had first loved us? By loving we became his friends, but he loved us when we were his enemies so that we might be made his friends. He loved us first, and gave us the gift of loving him. We did not yet love him, and by loving we are made beautiful.
Our soul was ugly in its wickedness, but by loving God it is made beautiful. What a love that is that makes the lover beautiful! God is always beautiful, never ugly, never changeable. He who is always beautiful loved us first, and what were we but ugly and unsightly? But not then to leave us ugly, but to change us and from unlovely to make us beautiful. How will we become beautiful? By loving him who is always beautiful. The more love grows in you, the more your beauty grows, because charity is the soul’s beauty. “Let us love, because he first loved us.” Listen to the Apostle Paul: “God showed his love for us in this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8-9), the just for the unjust, the beautiful for the ugly. (Augustine on I John, Hom. 9,9; PL 35, 2051)