July 11, 2012
Yesterday’s meditation from Divine Intimacy fit with some mental meanderings I’ve been engaging in recently. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. writes:
God’s goodness is so gratuitous that it gives itself to creatures without any merit on their part; [we cannot even merit life, the greatest good of all because without life we could not obtain eternal joy; it is a gift from God] it is so liberal that it always precedes them and never fails to impart its light to them even when, by abusing their liberty, they show themselves unworthy of it.
Free will is a double edged sword. We can use it for virtue or for sin. Too often we use it for sin. But God in His goodness doesn’t leave us wounded, near dead, naked and bleeding in the gutter like the man set upon by robbers on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho (Lk. 10: 30). He calls us to conversion in so many little ways – the friend who gives us a spiritual book to read, who invites us to go to Adoration or make a quick visit to the church, the nudge of our conscience to give up a particular sin, the article we come across in some public place, the family member who admonishes us over a misdeed, the blog post we stumbled upon accidentally that pricks our conscience. All this we are completely unworthy of, but that doesn’t stop God. This is His diffusive goodness in action.
God’s goodness is so patient that it does not stop at the ingratitude, the resistance, or even the crimes of His creatures, but His grace always pursues them.
Francis Thompson (1859-1907), English poet and ascetic, wrote the famous poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” The first stanza describes the pursuit:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter. Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat–and a Voice beat More instant than the Feet– “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”
Who among us cannot say this is true of ourselves? How many ways has the grace of God pursued us in spite of our resistance?
God could, in all justice, requite man’s sins by depriving him of life and all the other good things He has bestowed upon him, but His infinite goodness prefers to shower upon man new gifts and new proofs of His kindness. Has He not said: “I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live” (Ez. 33:11)?
More people are alive today on earth than ever before. More people are walking around unbaptized than ever before. Yet God, in his goodness, still calls them to Himself with many graces, waiting for them to see — really see Him. Father Gabriel has the last word here:
…infinite Goodness wills to pour itself out exteriorly also…. His goodness is so great that it can communicate itself to an infinite number of creatures without being diminished; it is so diffusive that it makes all it touches good. This goodness is the cause of your being and of your life: when you were created, it left its imprint on you, and it is always and unceasingly penetrating and enveloping you.
Has your heart retained the seal of divine goodness? Examine your thoughts, feelings, actions and see if there shines in them the reflection of the infinite goodness of God.
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