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Post no. 110 (Why God is unforgiving)

May 4, 2013

I have a little project going on here. In a nutshell, it’s a thought for the day thing by St George Preca. I translate the contemplation and upload it daily. On the 2nd May I uploaded this:

Only those who have suffered with me will enter my kingdom; before she entered, even my Virgin Mother had to suffer because of me. Worldly pleasures will pass and become eternal torments; worldly suffering will also pass and it will be transformed into eternal joy. This is a law that cannot be changed for those who want to enter heaven: patience or hell. Suffer with me by shunning sin and by carrying your cross every day, that you may please God.

One of the major stumbling blocks with Catholic faith is God’s apparent intransigence  – which may be very easily misconstrued for “unforgiveness”.

It’s there in black on white, see? Even St George Preca said so. It troubled me, in the sense that it could easily scare away somebody who passes by for a look, if you know what I mean.  You obviously can’t not include it, that would have defeated the whole WYSIWYG idea with being a Catholic. We’re not used car salesmen, after all.

Some of you may or may not remember that I was trudging along Pope Benedict XVI’s volume 2 of Jesus of Nazareth. (I say trudging because I don’t have the intellectual capacity for it, not because it’s boring – far from it.)

At one point he too mentions the apparent contradiction between the expiatory dimension of Jesus’ ministry and God’s “unconditional love and forgiveness”. He really does your head in, pointing out “inconsistencies” and planting new questions about stuff you’d never even thought could be questioned. After all the ruminations and twists and turns he comes up with this gem:

God cannot simply ignore man’s disobedience and all the evil of history; he cannot treat it as if it were inconsequential or meaningless. Such “mercy”, such “unconditional forgiveness” would be that “cheap grace” to which Deitrich Bonhoeffer rightly objected in the face of the appalling evil encountered in his day. That which is wrong, the reality of evil, cannot be simply ignored; it cannot just be left to stand. It must be dealt with; it must be overcome. Only this counts as true mercy.

(Through this we also get a feel of the magnitude of the Crucifixion. At work someone screws up and the boss comes charging at us, foaming at the mouth “How did this happen?” Our first reaction is “He acted against instructions”, you know trying to deflect the blame. And here’s this man (Jesus) who not only does not try to deflect the blame, but actually takes the blame for other people’s screw ups, but that’s by the by.)

Toodle-oo.

P.S. The title got you, didn’t it 🙂 ?

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