இந்த இணையதளத்திலுள்ள புத்தகங்கள் தங்களின் தனி பயன்பாட்டுக்கு மட்டுமே. வேறு தளங்களில் பகிர்வதற்கும், புத்தகமாக்குவதற்கும் அனுமதி இல்லை.

GOD'S GOODNESS, MERCY, PATIENCE AND JUSTICE

"Thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made" (Wisdom. 11:25). "Thou openest Thy hand and fillest with blessing every living creature" (Ps.144:16).

When the first Christian missionaries who reached Japan told the natives of the greatness, power and other perfections of God, a feeling of awe crept over them. Their consternation increased as they learned that this God is always near them, even in their souls. Their astonishment knew no bounds when they heard of the sin of our first parents. But when they were told of the sufferings and death of Our Lord, they cried: "How good, how loving must the God of Christians be!"  The missionary Fathers then explained that God has commanded us to love Him under pain of terrible punishment.  "Surely, that was not necessary!" they exclaimed. "Surely, the Christians must always love so good a God, and be ever inflamed with thanksgiving and gratitude!" When told that this was not the case, but that many spend their lives in offending God, the indignation of these pagans knew no bounds. "Who ever heard of such ingratitude! Oh hard-hearted barbarians!" they exclaimed. "They ought all to be destroyed off the face of the earth" (Cath. pratique).

Now, my friends, lest we also grow forgetful of the goodness of God, and offend Him so easily by sin, it is well for us all frequently to contemplate the opening words of the first Article of the Apostles' Creed, namely: "I believe in God the Father Almighty." Once we grasp the true meaning of these words, we will also exclaim: "How good, how loving must the God of the Christians be!"  The goodness, mercy, patience and justice of God are the attributes we wish to consider today.

(O Jesus, assist us with Thy grace!)

Goodness.--It is the characteristic tendency of everything that is really good to communicate itself to others. Constantly we read how the good give their wealth for charity and the poor. The educated, those who excel in the arts, in science and in medicine, are ever desirous to impart their knowledge to those less fortunate. But, my friends, consider what God, in His goodness, bestows constantly upon us human creatures.

We have received from Him the sum and substance of all the gifts which He has bestowed so generously upon the rest of creation. In common with all creatures, we have our existence; we have life as plants have; power of motion and sensibility like the animals; and intellect and free will similar to that of the Angels. God, as it were, has placed man in the center of creation and made him king of the earth to be served and obeyed by the whole visible world. "What is man, O God, that Thou are mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou dost visit him?"  This is the cry of the prophet David, who continues: "Thou hast made him a little less than the Angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor and hast set him over the works of Thy hand; Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, moreover also the beasts of the fields, the birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea" (Ps. 8:5).

Yes, everything we possess, our life, its preservation and nourishment, our enjoyments of body and soul, are all ours through the goodness of Almighty God. St. Thomas Aquinas, in his hymns to the Redeemer, briefly sums up the leading favors we receive through the goodness of God:

Se nascens dedit socium,

Convescens in edulium

Se moriens in pretium,

Se regnans dat in praemium.

"Se nascens dedit socium", that is, by becoming man, He made Himself our friend, the companion of our poverty, our misery and death. "God so loved the world to give His only begotten Son" (John.3:16). "Convescens in edulium,"  that is, at the Last supper, He gave Himself for our food. Hence, He provided food not only for the body, but in His goodness provides also nourishment for our souls.  "Se moriens in pretium,"  that is, in death, He gave Himself for our ransom.  "Se regnans dat in praemium," that is, in His heavenly kingdom, He is Himself our reward.  We realize the goodness of God best of all when we see it reflected in the lives of those we meet. During the time of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, the people were wont to exclaim: "O God, how good Thou must be if the Bishop of Geneva is already very good!"

The thought of goodness of God filled the Saints with a constant longing to be united with Him through death. St. Paul longed "to be dissolved and be Christ." A beautiful story is told of Cardinal Wiseman, Bishop of Westminster, England. In 1865, he realized that he was living his last few hours. The doctors informed him that they had exhausted all their skills. In a little while the nursing Sister entered. The Cardinal asked her:

"Did you hear what the doctors said?"

"No," she answered. "I did not hear, but I can guess."

"They said," continued the Cardinal, "that I am going home. Is that not beautiful?"

"For you," the Sister replied, "but for us?"

And here are the Cardinal's beautiful farewell words: "Do you know what homesickness is? I go that I may be with my Father. I am like a child who goes home, that he may be with his father."

Mercy.--But, my dearly beloved, our admiration for the goodness of God increases when we consider  upon whom He bestows His favors without number. That God in His goodness should see fit to create the universe, we can easily understand, for it reflects Him omnipotence and wisdom. And that, having created it, He should equip it with everything needful and useful, is similarly comprehensible. But  what must we say of God's attitude towards those creatures who are rebellious and ungrateful to him--who forget God, who become the very enemies of God? Man, by his sinfulness, rebels against God. What is it in God that permits man so frequently to continue to live on in sin unrepentant--yea, defying God, as it were, during the greater part of his sinful life? We have earned God's chastisement. What stays the hand of an avenging God? God Himself gives the answer: "I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Ezech.33:11). It is the mercy of God. ."He is rich in mercy" (Eph.2:4). Yea, St. Paul calls God "the Father of mercies" (2 Cor. 1:3).

What would happen to most of us if it were not for the mercy of God? Really, "to be a human being is a tragic fate." To be human means loving good, and yet being attracted towards evil. To be human means to determine enthusiastically to do noble deeds, and to remain weak in the actual performance. To be human means to strive towards God and to be held fast in the mire of earth and buffeted by Satan. There is only this consolation, namely, the mercy of God. True repentance on our part is all that He asks. For to the contrite of heart has the merciful God spoken: "If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow, and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool" (Is.1:18). "Neither the greatness of the crimes," says St. Cyprian, "nor the shortness of life yet remaining, nor the extreme necessity of the last hour excludes from the friendship of God. His infinite love and mercy embrace all that return to Him."

As examples of true repentance, we have the sinful Magdalen. Seven devils had dwelt in her hearts, says St. Luke (8:2). But of the repentant and contrite Magdalen, Jesus says: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much" (Luke. 7:47). The Samaritan woman and the thief on the cross are other examples. To one and all, God says: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him" (Is.55:7).

Patience.--And not only mercy and goodness, but also another glorious attribute Jesus manifested at the time of His sacred Passion and Death. It is the virtue of patience. How severely the patience of God is tried in modern times by nations and individuals! How many live as though God did not exist! Rulers of governments act as though the progress of so called civilization depended solely upon the power of the State. They assume the attitude that the world and temporal affairs can be governed without the help of God. At the International Court of The Hague and at the United Nations in New York, the name of God is seldom, if ever, mentioned in the deliberations. In higher circles, they reckon only with their own ingenuity for the development of industry.  The working man depends upon his strength; the tradesman on his skill; the father of a family on his industry; the merchant on his business acumen. Some scientists say that there is no God, or that science can do without a God.

Here is an example of the extremes to which some people will go in trying the patience of God. Not many years ago, a French poet published a book of verse filled with blasphemies.  One of the poems is entitled, "The Prayer of an Atheist." He entered a church, he writes, and here was his blasphemous prayer to God: "I deny Thee, and my proud neck I will never, never submit to Thy yoke. But I wish to make one final experiment. See, here I kneel before Thee in Thy house. Look down upon me and make an end of my struggles. If You in reality exist, send a consuming flash of lightning to strike me dead, that I may be justly punished for my unbelief. I await Thy chastising heavenly fire; only send it upon me.  If the lightening strikes me, and my soul prepares to leave this mortal body, with my last breath I will cry that truly You exist and that it was audacity for me to deny Thee. . . . But, behold, the lightning does not come. I can rise again in perfect health and leave Thy house.  In a word, Thou do not even exist."

One can hardly believe that any man would go to such extreme limits in testing the patience of God. Here is again reenacted the scene of God's enemies at the foot of the cross crying out: "Vau, if Thou be God, come down and free Thyself!"  One feels like the disciples of the Lord who cried out: "Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But patiently the Lord replies to those who reason thus, as did to His disciples: "You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of Man came not to destroy souls, but to save" (Luke.9:55,56). And again, "I wish not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Ezech.33). God's wisdom in dealing patiently with His wayward children was demonstrated in the case of this French poet and blasphemer. According to a brief notice appearing a few years later, this defiant blasphemer unexpectedly retired to the strictest monastery of the Trappists at Algiers, Africa, where, since then, he has been doing penance for his sins, thanking God for His infinite patience shown him.

How marvelous is not only the goodness and mercy, but also the patience of God! One day, it is said, a court jester came before Caesar and exclaimed: "Sir, you never forget anything in your life, except offenses committed against yourself." What was said in jest and flattery to a caesar, can in sacred truth be said of God. He not only forgives sins, but also forgets them. He not only forgets them, but in His loving kindness, He buries even the memory of them. Correct, then, was the Psalmist when the words well forth from his soul: "Praise the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever" (Ps.135:1).

Justice.--But here is another admonition for all of us. It is this: while we admire the goodness, the mercy and the patience of God, let us also not overlook His justice. We must always beware of tempting God beyond just bounds. For, while God is just without being too strict, He is also merciful without being too lenient. It is only a God who can reconcile the limits of goodness and mercy with justice. The day will arrive for us all when goodness and mercy will cease, and only justice will be meted out. After death, it will no longer be the good, the merciful, the patient God, but only the just Judge, the just God. He Who has said; "I wish not the death of a sinner, but that he repent and live," has also said: "Add not sin upon sin, and say not: 'The mercy of the Lord is great, He will have mercy on the multitude of my sins.'  For mercy and wrath quickly come from Him, and His wrath looks upon sinners. Delay not to be converted to the Lord and defer it not from day to day. For His wrath shall come on a sudden, and in the time of vengeance He will destroy thee" (Ecclus.5:5-8).

Conclusion.--My friends, let us not delay in recognizing the justice of God as well as His patience, goodness and mercy. Let us never forget how Our Lord wept over the city of Jerusalem. Jesus had repeatedly manifested His goodness and love, but stubbornly the Jews had rejected Him. Seeing the just punishments that were about to befall them, Jesus wept as He exclaimed: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered together thy children. . . . and thou wouldst not!" (Matt.23:37).

There is seldom a sincere death-bed conversion. History sounds the warning only too often. Here are a few striking examples.  On February 25, 1758, one of the most violent foes of Christianity, Voltaire, wrote to his friend, d'Alembert: "Twenty years hence the good God will be doomed." Exactly twenty years later, on the very same date, February 25, 1778, Voltaire's doctor informed him that his condition was hopeless. Voltaire asked that a priest be sent for. But his anti-Christiasn attendants would not allow this. He begged desperately, but in vain. Then giving one blood-curdling cry, he died as he had lived. Who, I ask, was doomed? Not God!

Chaumette was another. In a public speech, he challenged God with a blasphemy, saying: "God, prove that You are, and strike me with Thy lightning." No lightning came; but a few days later, his head fell under a guillotine. Nietzshe declare: "The ancient God is dead, we have killed Him." He ended his life as a maniac. All these blasphemers are dead, but God still lives.

Oh, my friends, let us never tempt God in His patience, His goodness and His mercy. Rather cry with the Psalmist: "Quid retribuam Domino pro-omnibus quae retribuat mihi?" ("What shall I render unto the Lord for all that He has rendered unto me?"). How beautifully St. Ambrose sums up the meaning of the words of the Creed, "I believe in God the Father Almighty," when he says: "Do you wish to heal your wounds? He is the Physician. Does the fire of fever burn you? He is the refreshing spring. Do you fall beneath the weight of your wrongdoing? He is eternal justice.  Do you need help? He is omnipotent power. Do you fear death. He is life. Do you earnestly long for the kingdom of heaven? He is the Lord. Do you want to flee from the darkness? He is light. Do you hunger for nourishment? He is the bread of life" ("De Virginitate," chapter 16). Yes, "the mercies of the Lord I will sing forever" (Ps.88.1).  Amen.