Reflection & Dialogue with Questions of the Day: God is love, but he cannot condone wrongdoing
That God is love is beyond doubt. As the response in the Responsorial Psalm in today’s Mass says: “The Lord is compassion and love”. The evidence of both the Old and the New Testaments bear abundant witness to God’s love for the human race, for each individual. From the New Testament we need mention only the Paul’s letters and the fourth Gospel. In public discourse today the love and mercy of Jesus are often contrasted with what is perceived as the harsh, unbending attitude of the official, institutional, Catholic Church.
However, if we are to properly assess both the Old and New Testaments we need to reflect on the purpose of the revelation of the One who said “I am who I am” as he revealed himself to Moses in the Old Testament, and of Jesus the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, in the New. In the covenant with Moses God gave commandments and precepts to be followed. Jesus came to bring life to the individual and the human race, and to give life abundantly. But central to Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom is: “Repent and believe in the Gospel, in the Good News”.
These are some truths that merit reflection in these our days of cultural and moral revolution. The message of Lent holds good for all times. It calls on believers to repent and return to Gospel values. Gospel values can scarcely be appreciated without contact with the living Christ, living among us, in particular in the Eucharist. Paul’s words still ring true for us all: “Those who think they are safe must be careful that they do not fall”. And while God remains love itself, we still have lessons to learn from early Israel in the desert, when many of them failed to please God.
Alternative Reflection on the Alternative Readings
Reflection & Dialogue: Christian hope brings certainty.
A common feature of the world in which we live is doubt in matters relating to faith, doubt about elements of moral teaching, about truths of faith, even at times about the very existence of God. An assertion of a certain philosophy, prevalent today, is that there is no certainty on anything. All we can have is speculation, guesswork, rather than certainty, opinions that vary from age to age.
An atmosphere of this sort adds to the difficulties on religious observance. Such doubt on fundamental matters is completely contrary to the teaching of the faith in matters relating to truths concerning this life and the life to come. Christian faith is thus described in the Epistle to the Hebrews (11:1): “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen” (NRSV). Two of the terms used there call for our reflection: assurance, conviction.
The assurance and conviction spoken of in this verse are not psychological attitudes of souls rooted in the human mind or soul. They refer instead to the divine, theological, virtue of hope, a gift from God that gives conviction which is beyond that which human nature can provide. This assurance and certainty bring with them a peace of soul, the peace which Jesus has granted to believers, and a peace that no one can take from them.