Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Abandonment by God

but I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from your predecessor Saul,
whom I removed from my presence.

Is is possible for a person to be abandoned by God? We can certainly feel at times abandoned by God.

This is a question that people have wrestled with since the beginning, and the earliest awareness of the presence of God. Many including our ancestors understood God in this way, as seen in this passage from today's first reading--- Another reason why we must be careful when we simply pull verses from the bible and forget that as Christians the Old Testament must be seen through the lens of the New Testament, and how the new covent not only fulfilled but expanded the old.

With the "new and everlasting covenant" in Christ, we are no longer simply "God's people" but truly become God's children. This means among other things that we cannot be abandoned by God. Even in the case of moral sin God does not "remove us from his presence." On the contrary, mortal sin, and indeed hell itself is an act of our free will. We can of our own free will separate ourself from God, but God will never separate himself from us. No more that any other child can stop being a related to their parent.

The truth was most recently underscored when the Holy Father, altered the Code of Canon striking for several canons the phrase "left the Church by a formal act." Once you are baptized, you are a child of God and a member of the Church. This cannot be undone. Even when you are forbidden to come to the table of the Lord (excommunication), you remain a member of the family.

As for hell, permenant separation from God. This too must be something that is not imposed on us by a loving God, but something we choose by a full and free act of the will. According to the Catechism of Catholic Church this permanent separation from God can only result from "a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end." Until the last nanosecond of our life, God is the Father of the prodigal son waiting to embrace us and welcome us home.