What must God think when he looks at the human race? Look over the centuries at “man’s inhumanity to man”… wooooo, boy oh boy…what a mess. Forget about the Hitlers and Stalins and 1994 Rwanda Genocide (1 million murdered in 100 days), just think about the more normal sinful people. If I look at my own life, I have added to the mess.
The first reading from mass today, Numbers 21:4-9, could be a tutorial on “how to complain…”. It reads, “with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in the dessert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!”
“We are disgusted with this wretched food”….talk about a short memory…. talk about ingratitude. At this point God had miraculously brought them out of Egypt, thru the Red Sea, giving them manna from heaven…miracle after miracle. The Israelites really knew how to complain. But to their credit, after God sent a quick punishment for their complaining, they were quick to repent and stop complaining, and things moved ahead. God is always ready to forgive.
One of my very favorite passages from scripture is from Luke 6:35-36, where it says “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
At times in the past when I was feeling very unworthy and thinking God could not love me … I’m such a bum, I have often clung to that passage. My reasoning went like this….even I qualify for God’s kindness, because I know I’m “ungrateful and selfish” and it says our father in heaven is kind to people who are ungrateful and selfish. Wow, the Lord God sets a very low bar for his mercy and kindness. He really loves us!
We are called to be merciful …. to our children who at times are ungrateful and selfish, and to others …. forgiving 70 times 7. (Mt. 18:21-22) When we show that kindness, we are acting like our heavenly father. His kindness is meant to lead us to repentance, so that we begin to act more and more like him. God is merciful and there’s a plan to God’s mercy…it’s contagious.
So, be encouraged. If we allow God’s great mercy to transform us, then we can pass it on to others and they can become transformed, and they can pass it on. Ultimately God’s plan for his creation will be fulfilled. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) This is the “Good News”.