What do you think?
|Vasili-Surikov -The Temptation of Christ-1872|
Sometimes to know what we truly believe, we have to ask questions, and ask good questions! And expect an answer. And the sort of questions that children ask are usually very good. For example, children will ask things like, “Does God love the devil?” What’s your answer? Anyone for yes? Anyone for no? Ok! Undecided!
Now, does God love the devil? That is a very important question. The short answer is, yes! Of course He does. I knew someone who always used to say, “I can’t reconcile the idea of a God of love with the existence of Hell.” So I said to him, “Well, look, if there is no Hell, it means we are forced to go to Heaven. And if we are forced to go to Heaven against our will, then God is some kind of despot, or He is not love.” Right? Because we are forced, and if we are forced it is not love. So Hell exists because God is love.
And I will put it to you this way. The cause of all three things, Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, is God’s love. In Hell the damned are love by God, and they don’t want to be loved. So they experience it as shear torture. In Purgatory, the Holy Souls are loved by God. And they see how they have held back from His love. How they have been selfish. And this pain purifies them. In Heaven the Blessed are loved by God, and they delight in being loved. And this is the cause of their Beatific State, seeing God as He is, face to face. Becoming like Him, living by His Divine Life. Ok, so all three are caused by God.
In the Narnia Chronicles, the last book – you know those children’s books by C.S. Lewis – the last book is called “The Last Battle”. Near the end, there is a scene in which the heroes, the children, end up in a barn with all the bad guys. And the heroes, the children, experience the barn as all lit up beautifully, with all these wonderful silver candlesticks holding candles, and a wonderful meal set out on silver platters. And they drink fine red wine out of crystal goblets. But meanwhile, the baddies think they are in a dark barn, eating and drinking swill. And they tread on each other and they curse each other, and they hate everything and everyone including themselves.
This is a powerful image of both Heaven and Hell, both caused by God’s love. To the extent you are open to God’s love and mercy, you receive it. To the extent that you are closed, you receive His justice. There is a gentleman, a friend of mine now, who was a pilgrim like you. And he said, “Father I used to struggle to believe that God loved me, but ever since you said that God loves the devil, I think I can believe it now!”
But remember God is love, God is not sentimentality. We must be open to that love. And if we are not open, then He will lovingly send us to Hell.
What an amazing answer and reflection on the God of Love Whom we serve and worship!!! St. John expresses the essence of God as Love:
not to be confused with sentimentality as Fr. Leon clarifies, but that He, GOD, is – in and of Himself – LOVE!
Love Unconditional and Unchanging!
What good news!
God cannot not love!
Because to not love is against His very nature.
For those of us who struggle with believing that God can really love us after all we’ve done and all the mistakes we’ve made – like the pilgrim Fr. Leon mentions in his homily – may reflecting on Fr. Leon’s words help us to accept the REALITY of God’s love for us!
May we not only accept, but receive this Life-giving, Transforming Love of God!
May we allow God’s love to pour into us anew and heal our woundedness that keeps us always questioning and leery of God, and thus, separated from the union God desires to have with us.
© Janet Moore 2018. All Rights Reserved.
We can listen to Father Leon’s wit and wisdom daily, as his homilies are posted on MaryTV each day. For example, in today’s homily, for 6/7/2018, he gives an incredible teaching on the Holy Mass!
Please make sure to click the link above! It is an excellent teaching on the greatest gift God gives to us and a glimpse into the Reality of Heaven’s worship.
Lastly, my family and I were blessed to first meet Father Leon on our pilgrimage to Medjugorje last year and then, were blessed also to host Father Leon in my diocese a few months back. So many people loved him, that we estimate 1000 people came to listen to his teaching and his testimony.
If you can’t get enough of Father Leon, you can watch and listen to the talk he gave to our diocese here:
Thank you to Cathy Nolan of Mary TV for transcribing his homily and for posting his homilies each day!
May God bless each of us and transform us by His Love!