The Faithfulness of God

03-11-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In the passage from 2 Chronicles this weekend the author emphasizes the faithful­ness of God, even though we know that God's people were unfaithful. Out of this faithful love, God sent messengers and prophets to warn all the land of Israel, to call the people to faithfulness and also, as importantly, to love God in return. These special invitations were cruelly spurned. The author composes his scripture to tell us that because of Israel's infidelity and lack of love, Je­rusalem was destroyed, the people lost their home, and the nation was taken into captivity.

God, however, still remains faithful and loving to the Israelites. It is only in their suffering that the people come to recognize this. God's anger abates, and God extends salvation from a to­tally unexpected and shocking source - through Cyrus, a foreign conqueror, not one of their own! The promise of a new Jerusalem and a rebuilt temple is given. The message is salvation comes from the loving hand of God and the people are brought home safe.

Paul in his beautiful letter to the Ephesians strongly reemphasizes God's faithfulness and abiding love. He tells us, even in the face of our sins, that God loves us and rescues us through the suffering and death of Christ. Paul boldly emphasizes that we are alive because of Christ; sal­vation is sure if we have faith in him.
Our Gospel of this weekend, which comes from John, balances out this essay on the salva­tion that comes to us through the love of God. The evangelist makes it absolutely clear that it is through the Son of God, the first fruit of God's love, that the light of salvation is indeed now ours. The writer John simultaneously warns us that we must not flee the light, but embrace it closely. We learn that God's love seeks the response of acting in the light and living in truth. Only b y such living do we come to recognize the salvation that God extends to us in our lives, espe­cially through the sacraments, in the Church. Only then will we come to live secure in God's sav­ing light.

We do not actually need to die to recognize the meaning and import of life. Instead, as our passages this weekend tell us, we need but die to old ways of living and accept the gift of salva­tion that God offers us. This means recognizing that salvation - new life - is not something that comes after this life or something that is separated from our life of today. It is, in fact, intrinsical­ly linked to life, to the reality of our everyday life. Salvation does not happen somewhere "beyond" the pale of physical life in some metaphysical hyper-reality or apart from the practical every day. It happens here and now. The whole meaning of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is the absolute statement of this truth and reality. All of creation is infused and touched b y our God.

If we believe God loves us and loves us first, what a difference that this powerful reality will make in our lives. The God we believe in loves us no matter what. The God we believe in sends forth from the heavens a divine and loving invitation to come home. All we need do is re­spond to the call and come live with God in Christ, safe at home forever.

An Early Thank You: Nan Rafter, our Parish Nurse and Pastoral Associate has informed me that she is planning to retire early this June. Indeed much needs to be said about her gracious, compassionate and dedicated caring for all of us in our Parish, but this is just an early notice that our wonderful associate is retiring.