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Let’s not abuse God’s overbending mercy


BY FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD


There’s a saying: “A face that only a mother can love.” But with God, he loves even faces that a mother cannot love.

* * *

According to a Jewish legend, when God was about to create man, he consulted the angels that stood about his throne.

“Create him not,” said the angel of Justice. “For he will commit all kinds of wickedness against his fellowman; he will be cruel and dishonest and unrighteous.”

The angel of Truth said, “Create him not for he will be false and deceitful to his brothers and sisters and even to You.”

* * *

Then the angel of Mercy stepped forward and said, “Our heavenly Father, create him, for when he sins and turns from the path of right and truth and holiness, I’ll take him tenderly by the hand and speak loving words to him and then lead him back to You.”

And God, following the counsel of the angel of Mercy, created man.

* * *

The story illustrates Christ’s message in the gospel of the 4th Sunday of Lent: “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (Jn. 3,16).

* * *

The Old Testament episode in the desert demonstrates this reality as indicated in today’s gospel. After the exodus from Egypt returning to Palestine, the Israelites found the way blocked and had to skirt Edom.

The people grumbled against God and Moses about the detour. God punished the people by sending poisonous snakes.

* * *

But then in his mercy, he commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent and erect it as a standard. The people who were bitten were cured by turning in faith toward the bronze serpent lifted up by Moses (read Numbers 21,8).

* * *

Jesus Himself saw in the lifting up of the serpent as a sign of his own lifting up on the cross. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”

* * *

Some of us may think that this overbending image of God depicts him as too soft or weak. Consider corrupt officials, hold-uppers, rapists, and murderers abusing His goodness and breaking his commandments.

But that’s the way God loves us. His kindness, patience, and “ocean of mercy” give us all the chances to change, to start a new life while we are still in this world.

* * *

The 4th Sunday of Lent is called “Laetare” (Rejoice) Sunday. The reason is that even for the most depraved sinner, there is hope. On the reverse side: Let’s not abuse the kindness of God. In Jesus’ Parable of the Wheat and Weeds (read Matthew 13, 24-43) the Lord warns us that in the time of Reckoning or Judgment, the “bad grass” (masasamang damo) will be bundled up and thrown into the fire (hell).

Hence, the gospel today is both a message of HOPE and a WARNING.

* * *

ACTION: “When you hear His voice, harden not your hearts (to reform).”

* * *

THE LIGHTER SIDE – Once a priest was walking alone in a dark alley, when suddenly a burly guy sidled beside him and poked a knife at his rib. “Akin na ang wallet mo” (Give me your wallet), he growled.

“Anak, nagkakamali ka” (Son, you’re mistaken), the priest said, “Ako ang cura paroko dito sa malapit na parokya” (I’m the pastor of the nearby parish).”

* * *

Upon hearing this, the hold-upper changed his tone and sheepishly said, “Ah sorry, Father.”

Wanting to befriend the guy, the pastor offered a cigarette. To which he replied: “Sorry, Father, cuaresma ngayon; ako’y nag aayuno sa paninigarilyo” (It’s Lent and I’m fasting from smoking).

The guy’s Lenten fasting is admirable but he is engaged in holdup.

* * *

A Conversion? A corrupt cop always extorted tong (bribe) from traffic violators. One weekend, he attended a Lenten LSS (Life in the Spirit Seminar). When he returned to his post, he no longer asked for tong…but “love offering.”

* * *

HELP COVID-19 PATIENTS. May I appeal help for poor patients and victims of the COVID-19 pandemic I’m supporting. We live in hard times. But many of us are by far more blessed than these COVID-19 indigent sick. Hence, this fervent appeal. Jesus said: “Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did it for Me.”

* * *

Please send ANY AMOUNT through online BDO Savings Account 000220051623 Fr. Isabelo San Luis or BPI Savings Account Fr. Isabelo R. San Luis, 00593007986.

Let’s live simply so that others may simply live.

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