I was out shopping. I was in a rather fancy grocery store thinking about what ingredients I need to make meatless dishes. I was preparing to do a nine fast with a novena to Saint Joan of Arc, (Thank you St. Joan, for guiding me.)
I was in the vegetable section, and I saw a package of mushrooms on the floor as I approached with my shopping cart. As I was walking, I debated with myself: should I pick it up or not? I look up, and I saw another family was approaching. And what do I do?
I kept walking by. I noticed the other man coming up, picking it up as I was passing by.
I felt a bit of shame and guilt. Why didn’t I pick it up? It was right there. It was such a tiny little thing.
Was it because I’d look foolish somehow? Was it out of laziness? Maybe it was because I didn’t want to appear weak. Perhaps all of these.
Then the scene popped into my as I contemplate God.
I was in Church this Sunday, visiting Saint Joan of Arc’s Parish (for her Feast Day, she rocks 🙂 and the priest was giving a homily on who is God.
It was a good homily, looking at God’s mercy for us. Yet, I felt something was lacking. God is mercy, that is true, absolutely, and I felt like the priest made that point very well, but it lacked the one element, the fear of God. We will get to this in a bit.
When I sit down and think about God, I think of all His qualities. God is merciful, absolutely true. God is mercy.
Let’s take that idea and ponder it. Many Christians, even Catholics, believe that God is mercy, even to the point that He is chummy. He wants to be our buddies. In certain respects, that is true, if not a limited perception. Of course, God wants us to be His friend! Yet He is our Father. Keep that in mind.
Others see God as a vengeful, angry God waiting to condemn us for any slight misstep we might make, like in the old testament.
There is a tendency to focus on one side or another, and that is an error. Instead, the New Testament and Old Testament work hand and hand to show a more genuine depiction of who He is.
God isn’t the god of justice or mercy. God is love.
Now let us contemplate Love. Love isn’t letting us do whatever we want without consequences. Love isn’t looking the other way with a wink when we want to do something we know we shouldn’t.
It is true; God loves more than anything He has created as God is our heavenly Father who consoles us in our trials and chastises us when we do something wrong. He is the head of the household, and when we break away from Him, we break the order within He establishes within his house.
God has every right to punish us. Not because He wishes to see us damned. Instead, we might learn from our mistakes. And once we have learned from our mistakes, we turn to Him, realizing that we were in the wrong.
We apologize to our Father, and it is out of love that he forgives us and embraces us back into the fold! For He sent his only son to die for us that we might be saved from our folly.
Then it is up to us, in cooperation with His Grace, that we might do penance to restore the order we broke within our Father’s house. Lest we do it in Purgatory. I’d rather do it now than later.
My dear friends, do not be fooled. God is mercy; God is justice, all aspects of true love. His anger is for our correction and how we should rejoice when He corrects us, for it shows he truly loves us.
Yes, we need the fear of God to understand God. Children desire not to be corrected by their fathers because it isn’t a pleasant experience. Yet this fear develops more and more. We fear God’s eternal punishment, yes. We fear his temporal correction; yes, we should, just as any child fears these things from their biological parents. But as we develop and mature in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, our fear will grow into a fear of disappointing and wronging our supremely loving and Heavenly Father, a worse fate than any can imagine!
Lastly, let us remember this. God wants us to get to Heaven. It is our choice. To say yes to his love in all aspects or say no to his love in all aspects. If we keep saying no… well… we will end up in a place devoid of love. If we keep saying Yes to God and no to ourselves, we will find God working in our hearts to love more and more.
When you have that inkling to push that cart back into the store to help the cart pusher, consider it. When you see that piece of trash on the ground, listen to it. When you have the opportunity to tip someone, you have a choice. To ignore it and go about your business, or you could help out. Do not boast that you did something so great. Or that you did some excellent act. Rather, thank God for spreading his infinite Love in a small way and go about your business.
Peace unto you, Saint Joan and Saint Therese pray for you!