Sunday, February 14, 2016

How can the wrath of an almighty God be just against the limited offense of a mere mortal?

Indeed, is not our God a merciful Father whose heart overflows with infinite love for us? Consider:
The Apostles declared that all you must do is "believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved -- you and your household." Psalm 3:12 says: "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." Isaiah 1:18 says "... though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow ...." James 1:17 says: "Every good and perfect gift is from our heavenly Father." St. Paul says in Rm 8:18 that nothing in this life can be compared "with the glory that awaits us." And he says in 1 Corinthians 2:9 - "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."
Love Him? But of course, how could we possibly not love such a heavenly Father who gives us everything we want and then promises even more? Hmmm ...

As C.S. Lewis once said, a man cannot be too careful about what he reads! St. Robert Bellarmine suggests an analogy:
Let us say that our king comes to love some obscure common man, adorns him with public offices and finally places him in command of the beautiful and fully-equipped citadel of his own empire. Now let us say that this person conspires with enemies against his own king and allows the citadel committed to his care to come into their hands. If it should happen by some issue of events that this man were captured and brought into his king's presence, what do you suppose the king would do with him? Would the fact that the king once dearly loved that traitor deter him from pronouncing upon him the penalties due to traitors? Indeed, the penalties would be atrocious, and so much the more so as the benefices previously conferred upon him had been greater. So it is with us. Even though God has loved us with a mighty love and has sent His Son to us and willed that He suffer and endure so many things for our liberation, yet despite this, He will still punish us with eternal tortures if we desert to the camp of the enemy and betray the citadels of our souls to demons.
Indeed, St. Bellarmine suggests a paraphrase of that aforementioned happy verse from 1 Corinthians 2:9:
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man the tortures and torments which God hath prepared for those who offend Him."
Happy Lent!
[Acknowledgements: quoations are from some happy Lenten reading, St. Robert Bellarmine's "Hell and Its Torments", a sermon delivered at Louvain University, ca. 1574. Audio HERE]

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