Sunday, 17 March 2013

‘For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called…In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer’ – Isaiah 54: 5 & 8

This weekend the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has repeatedly spoken about the forgiveness of God. God’s mercy is something no Christian can fail to hear about, especially now in Lent as we prepare to remember how Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins. Yet, personally speaking, until I answered my vocation to marry there was something missing in my appreciation of God’s love for humankind.

It was only when I began thinking of how much it would hurt me if my wife betrayed me that I started to see how much God loves us. The Bible often uses the image of husband and wife to explain the relationship between God and humans, but until I got married these passages did not really come alive for me. I love my wife more than I had ever imagined was possible and if she were to betray me I would be broken. It would be the deepest and most devastating blow to the heart that I can imagine. If she was tempted to break our marriage covenant, would I, could I forgive her? God loves humans in a way like I love my wife but to such a surpassing degree that actually it would be better to say God loves and I do not, my ‘love’ being a pale imitation of His. Yet, I, as a member of His bride the Church am constantly violating my covenant vows to God. ‘A righteous man falls seven times, and rises again’ (Proverbs 24:16) every day and I am far from righteous. Shamefully I am sinning almost continually, betraying God as if I had taken no vows to Him at all. If my wife did this to me it would snap my soul in two. How much more must it gnaw at the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is filled with a love indescribably more than mine, to suffer so many betrayals?

Despite the depth of His love for us God is never slow to forgive us when we reject Him. In fact this whole season of Lent is an annual reminder that ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). I don’t know if I could accept a single adultery and yet from me, from everyone, God has accepted more adulteries than the stars of sky or grains of sand on the sea. In fact God continues to accept these adulteries and has even established the sacrament of Confession for us as a means to return to him because of our fickle nature. God loves us so much that He is willing to overlook a legion of sins so long as we are truly willing to turn to embrace Him time and time again. It is inconceivable to me to imagine forgiving my wife not just 7 times but 7 times 70 and yet God offers His bride that forgiveness without hesitation. This just shows how much more God loves us than we are even capable of truly grasping. The Divine Mercy is an illustration of how vast and incomprehensible the gap is between human and Heavenly love.

‘If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with thee’ (Psalm 130: 3-4) because God loves us so much that ‘if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself’ (2 Timothy 2:13). Pope Francis’ words about God’s forgiveness remind us how wonderful God’s love for humanity is. ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church’ (Ephesians 5:25). What a standard to live up to…

No comments:

Post a Comment