Excerpt from Nativity of Mary Bulletin - February 4th &5th. Written by Fr. Nathan LaLiberte.
God’s Desire for Us
Recently I have found myself reflecting a great deal on how much God deeply desires us, His people. The classic verse that is so often quoted surrounding this is John 3:16; “God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Part of the reason for my recent reflections on this is that about a month ago I had a rather animated conversation with an old seminary
friend of mine, where we discussed the extents that God would go to in order to “save” just one of his sheep.
We are told in the scriptures that the “good shepherd” would readily leave the ninety-nine and seek after the one lost sheep (Matthew 18:12). This is not just a nice thought, but it is God telling us the extent that he would go to for us. I think that we often forget how deeply desired every one of God’s children are to Him. In a world that often reflects on persons as either ‘good or bad’ we unfortunately attribute this same thought process to God. Where we proclaim who we think God will save and who He will reject. However, we are truly not the ones that get to determine that. We belong to God, He created us, and thus our God gets the last word on how his children will fair in regards to salvation He alone grants.
I think it is just broken human nature that wants to make categories to place people in. But for God, who created us, who seeks us out, and
lavishes his graces upon us, it is a perpetual desire to pursue and seek us out until the last possible moment.
To this point, I came across a profound reflection by St. Edith Stein. Edith Stein, who was born to a Jewish family during World War II, converted to Catholicism later in her life and became a Carmelite nun (taking the religious name Sr. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross). This remarkable woman saw the immense suffering of her people, the Jews, under the Nazi regime. As she saw so many family members and friends go to their deaths, she also reflected a great deal about the life to come for them, especially in wake of her recent conversion to Catholicism. The below reflection comes from her Philosophical, Spiritual, and Theology processing of these events and brilliant helps us moderns reflect on God’s desire to save His people.
"Grace can come to man without him seeking it. The question is whether it can complete its work without his cooperation. Its seems this must be
answered in the negative…it can find no abode if it is not freely taken…“
And we know that many men occupy themselves with salvation in this life, but don’t accept grace…“But we still do not know whether the decisive hour might not come for all these somewhere in the next world, and faith can tell us that this is the case…
“All merciful love can thus descend to everyone - we believe that it does so. And now, can we assume that there are souls that remain perpetually
closed to such love? As a possibility in principle, this cannot be rejected. IN REALITY, it becomes infinitely improbable …Grace can steal its way
into souls and spread itself more and more…
“Human freedom can be neither broken nor neutralized by divine freedom but it CAN be “outwitted”…The descent of grace to the human soul is a free act of divine love…And there are no limits to how far it may extend…
“The faith in the unboundedness of divine love and grace justifies a hope for the universality of redemption, although, through the possibility of resistance to grace that remains open “in principle”, the possibility of eternal damnation also exists.”