Sunday, September 12, 2010

The power of God

In the second reading today, St. Paul reminds us of his former life as Saul of Tarsus, the pharisee dedicated to hunting down members of this new sect of Judaism which we now call Christianity. We know the name of one christian killed at the instigation of Saul. We have no idea how many more there were whose names are not recorded. What we know is that Paul himself looks back on those years, and describes himself as the foremost of sinners.
The first reading we see one option for dealing with such evil, simply destroy it. If God wanted to he could. The exodus story is not one about Moses changing God's mind, but rather God testing Moses. Just as God never intended to have Abraham kill Isaac, God never intended to wipe out his people no matter how badly they sinned.
God's response to sin and evil is not destruction but conversion of heart. Pau's point in recounting the gravity of his own sin is simple. If his heart could be changed, there is no heart that cannot be changed. There is no person alive who is beyond redemption. After all, do we not believe that God is all-powerful?
Does God will the eradication of sin and evil? Yes. But not by simple eradication but by conversion, the changing of hearts by the power of God's grace.

"there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance...there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
- Fr. Wayne