God against himself

For this holy Day, a quote from Pope Benedict, a spoken reflection by me (excuse the ambient knocking noise outside my car where I recorded), and a hymn.

Israel has committed “adultery”
and has broken the covenant;
God should judge and repudiate her.
It is precisely at this point
that God is revealed to be God
and not man:

“How can I give you up, O Ephraim!
How can I hand you over, O Israel!
My heart recoils within me,
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my fierce anger,
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God
and not man,
the Holy One in your midst” (Hosea 11:8-9).

God’s passionate love for his people
—for humanity—
is at the same time a forgiving love.
It is so great
that it turns God against himself,
his love against his justice.

Here Christians can see
a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross:
so great is God’s love for man
that by becoming man
he follows him even into death,
and so reconciles justice and love. — Pope Benedict XVI

10 comments on “God against himself

  1. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this BEAUTIFUL reflection!

    A couple thoughts: 1) Jesus already made his commitment, his covenant, his vow but still struggled afterwards, was tempted to look for a way out. As someone who struggles with finishing what I start and feeling guilty for not “feeling” 100% joyfully committed to whatever it is that lies before me, one thing I have taken from Gethsemane over time has been to see this is a huge reality check — that this is part of being human — and encouragement: That Christ has lived this too, so He understands intimately our fears and anxieties to continue with something that is so hard for us because He’s been there in that And anywhere he’s been is where we can assuredly find him . It rallies me to take the long view and not to see setbacks in the form of my fears and anxieties as impenetrable dead ends, but rather perfect opportunities for grace-filling surrender to have Him take over to continue along the path before me.

    2) the importance of raw honesty in prayer: something I’ve learned here on your blog. To really beg. To dare to be brutally honest with God when I pray, not to just tell Him all the nice things I hope happen and all the bad habits I want Him to clean up in me — although of course, just thinking about those nice things does have the effect of giving me a better outlook and helps me to keep positive, — but that’s not the power of God I’m evoking, It’s a boring, self-directed pep talk that doesn’t require much faith on my part, or expect much on God’s part. But to admit to Him what I’m terrified of, hurt by, or dreading. To tell him who feels like an enemy and who I really struggle to forgive and to help me understand my stupid resistance and maddening brokenness and to throw up my arms in frustration at my littleness that He can and does invade and invert and make new and make good out of evil.

    And one share:
    I looked up the Suscipe to get the words and found this killer reflection on this prayer lived out by the author’s mom in her journey with Alzheimer’s: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/22256/my-mothers-suscipe

    • DismasDancing says:

      Thanks, Jen for the tip. Went to the site and found it as gripping as you say. Especially poignant for M and me because her aunt is “mid-stage” Alzheimer’s and going through all of the machinations this horrible affliction causes. I shall share with M, thinking she will draw a lot of understanding, hope, and faith from it. Happy Easter to you and your family. I owe you some mail. Peace and love, my dear sister in Christ!

    • Thank you — I loved this when you wrote it; it deepened my meditation that day on the mystery. Blessings, J!

  2. Louise says:

    Tom, that was quite beautiful. It got my Good Friday off to a GOOD start. Jennifer, thanks for sharing that reflection of the Suscipe. I work with people with dementia and that was just so heartfelt and beautiful. God bless you both

  3. GuadaGirl says:

    Dr. Neal, Thank you for the beautiful reflection at the beginning of it you mentioned “paradox when you surrender your freedom to God, your freedom is set free. To be what is created to be will and nature come to perfect harmony” – i immediately thought about the Suscipe Prayer. Then you end your reflection with that! whoa! took my breath away…Is my favorite prayer since I dwell more deeply into Ignatian spirituality a few years ago. I have always known this prayer but this Lent i made it a point to pray it every day, since I want to be in communion with him and not follow my own will or what I want. Thanks for helping me see more clearly what surrender means through the eyes of our Faith. Blessed Good Friday where God’s Mercy through Jesus blood and water is the stop to evil. It is Finish!
    Neal Obstat community HAPPY EASTER!!! HE IS Alive, Jesus is victorious! Viva Cristo Rey!

  4. Christa says:

    What better on Holy Saturday morning than Tom and B16?? These reflections made a perfect reconciliation preparation for me and a friend today. May He shower you with 40 days of Easter graces!

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