Thursday, July 31, 2014

Memorial of Saint Ignatius Loyola, priest

(Jeremiah 18:1-6; Matthew 13:47-53)

Preachers today often speak of God’s “unconditional love.”  Rightly understood, the statement is on target.  Unlike most humans, God doesn’t reserve His affection for one nation or another, for one race or another, even for one religion or another.  There is something to the special love God has for the poor, but this does not mean that He does not care as well for the rich and the strong.

Yet it seems that some may run too fast with the idea of God’s unconditional love.  They would say that it assures everyone a place in the Kingdom.  They want to claim that nothing anyone does might alienate him or her from eternal life.  A funeral director, who hears plenty of homilies about God’s mercy, said that this was one of the results of Vatican II. 

But, of course, the bishops arrived at no such conclusion fifty years ago nor could they do so today.  It would counter Jesus’ teaching in this mass’s parable of a huge catch of fish some good and some bad.  In the first reading as well, written before a sense of personal salvation took hold in the biblical literature, the Lord declares Himself able to reject a people to whom He has shown great love.

A wise man once said that we cannot know if no one has been condemned but we can pray that no one has been condemned.  We also should pray that people who do evil things turn from their misdeeds.  And while we are at it, let us also pray that we who come to church to listen to pious homilies do not have hidden, darker motives for doing so.