Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(Revelation 15:1-4; Luke 21:12-19)

 Preachers used to talk a lot about the wrath of God.  The topic easily captured people’s imaginations.  Also, Scripture references it enough to make it seem very important. Today's first reading refers to it quite directly.  Seven angels hold the last seven plagues of God's fury.

However, we must be very cautious in using human attributes to describe God.  He (forgive this gender reference, but this is Scripture’s predilection) is beyond human emotion since he is pure Spirit.  Indeed, God is beyond our ability to describe Him.  Yet a few qualities stand out because Jesus uses them in speaking of his Father.  God is just, for example.  Indeed, justice is what Revelation is trying to intimate when it speaks of God’s wrath.  For human sin, justice seems to require the imposition of severe punishments.  But God’s justice is not a tit for tat.  Its aim is to make humans just.  Although it sometimes punishes, its primary tool is mercy.  Both the Old and the New Testaments constantly show God acting mercifully.  He wants His people to consider imitating His ways.

We cannot imitate God by becoming angry.  Although anger is not necessarily sinful, neither is it an attribute of God.  We do imitate God when we show mercy, but not mercy as permissiveness.  No, care for others requires a willingness to pardon their transgressions.  However, unless it holds them accountable to improvement, it fails to testify to God’s love.