Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Sirach 5:1-8; Mark 9:41-50)
Along with the comfortable images we use for God, today’s Scripture readings offer a couple that are not appealing. Sirach mentions God’s anger and Mark’s Jesus speaks of punishment for sin as eternal fire. How are we to reconcile these very different characterizations of God?
We have to avoid thinking of God as a human person like ourselves. He is not friendly one day and distempered another. He remains always as Jesus describes Him – loving. Indeed, because of His love for us, He wants us to become more loving ourselves. His “anger” is not an emotion, which is attributable only to humans. Rather it is a way of projecting human frustration when a son or daughter disappoints a father. “Eternal fire” also need not be taken literally. It is the absence of God when all is said and done. It is never knowing peace but always being subject to the vagaries of the here and now.
God offers us a way to Himself in Jesus. The Savior’s words give us a roadmap to eternal life. His death and resurrection provide us the wherewithal to follow it. Becoming loving like the Father we will also be happier, kinder, and gentler. We will have become the kind of people God has always intended.