When I travel in the car, I find it a very good time to turn off all radios and CD’s, and just allow time for my fairly tired brain to relax and think. That does not mean, however, that I am other than very focussed on the dangers of driving, as the older I get, the more I am aware that a car is also a lethal weapon of destruction. But then I do, sometimes, listen to both the radio and CD’s. I have a favourite CD of short sayings, from the writings of Chiara Lubich, and one of these has stayed with me, in a profound way:

What good would it do Him to be infinitely merciful? What good would it do Him, if it were not for our sins? 

After hearing that for perhaps the tenth time, I turned off everything again, and let it sink in. 

Tomorrow, 11th November, is Armistice Day. We will be holding the Remembrance Day Service for the Borough Council, in our Church, on Sunday at 11.45, and I am to preach. It will be a short sermon, and this saying of Chiara’s, will be the inspiration. She says to me that God’s Love ‘bends over backwards’, in Jesus, to give us hope – for Jesus longs to take away the sufferings that human beings cause themselves.

The slaughter, that best describes the First World War, was mindless and unnecessary: yet God permitted it. Why?

A Photograph of the First World War That Needs No Explanation

The slaughter and torture of all since – right up to the present – is also mindless, and yet God permits it. Why? We have to bear in mind that the ‘sins’ that God permits are, also, in that sense, ‘God’s Will’. The greatest ‘sin’ in the history of the world was, and is, the Passion and Crucifixion of Our Lord, and that ‘permitted evil’ led to the fullness of the Redemption, in the Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead. Jesus ‘spoke’ not only in words – but in his deeds. The Cross was the perfect expression of the Love that God is, and from utter nothingness – God, dead on the Cross – arises the fullness of life. 

What good would it do Him to be infinitely merciful? What good would it do Him, if it were not for our sins? 

God seems to be calling for us to give him the sins we commit, so that He can justify his own Death on the Cross. 

Why do we have the beautiful international saying: ‘Hope springs eternal’? It must come from that unknown part of the self that is deep within our spirit: it is there, that we find the Wisdom that is God. Even in the worst disorder, destruction, hatred and chaos, beauty can spring up. It is part of our human experience. The poppy is the beautiful symbol that ‘springs’ up, out of the muddy, awful waste-land of First World War trenches.  God who is all beauty, joy, happiness, life and glory is not destroyed by any darkness – for: 

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it”. (John 1:5) 

At this point, I will conclude my blog, by quoting a small section of a book entitled, “Your Word is Fire”, a title that goes to the heart of my present meditations. The book is much more meaningful to me, because I know the author quite well: on one occasion we holidayed for two weeks, together, in Ireland. He is an Italian missionary and theologian, a priest called Fr. Fabio Ciardi, O.M.I. He explains, using the ‘Fathers of the Church’ to back his writing, how Jesus speaks to us – but not just in his words; his very life speaks to us, also.  In the end, ‘Hope Springs Eternal’, because Jesus is God-With-Us. 

Why did what Jesus say enchant the crowds? Why have his words been the inspiration of generations of Christians, sustained the Martyrs in their sufferings, formed saints, sustained missionaries..? Because, in his words, he gives himself. He speaks who he is. His life speaks. 

St. Gregory the Great (died 604 AD; he sent St. Augustine to England) is the spokesperson of the tradition that sees in the sacred books a message that God has sent to all humankind. “What is Holy Scripture – he asks – if not a letter from almighty God to all his creation?” In Holy Scripture he lets us take note of his will, reveals his plan of salvation, his thoughts of peace; and he shows in practical terms the way a person can conduct his or her life. Having said that, Holy Scripture is something more than a message from God. It is true that it contains his Word, but when God speaks he does not say words, he says himself. St. Augustine of Hippo (died 330 AD) reminds us that God never gives less than himself. 

The unique Word that the Father, from eternity, pronounces is the Word, his Son. It is a unique Word that completely and finally expresses himself: he gives all himself. He is not like us because, when we express ourselves, we need many words and concepts…and even then we find that we have not managed fully to say what we mean. St. Augustine (of Hippo) says something else that in the Word that the Father has said everything in an ineffable way, (not to be spoken because of its sacredness; unutterable: the ineffable name of the deity.) 

A woman can give birth to many children because to each one she gives her life, but not the whole of her life….she is there also to give birth to others. The Father is not like that. He cannot generate more children because when he generates his only Son, his favoured one, he gives the whole of himself fully and completely and makes him another He: God from God, Light from Light. The Father cannot say another word. “All that God the Father has given to God the Son – writes St. Augustine (of Hippo) – he has given in generating him…How in any other manner can he give words to the Word in whom in an ineffable way the Father has said everything?” 

Perhaps we can begin to intuit with our hearts why ‘Hope Springs Eternal’.  Our God is madly in Love with each one of us, and all of us together, and in every circumstance of life.

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