Today is the nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Today’s Gospel reading is John 6: 41-51. John 6 is all about belief and Eucharist, as follows:
41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ 42They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’
43Jesus answered them, ‘Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.
47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’
How can this be? How can the almighty eternal God permit the rejection of unbelievers, who must displease Him Who knows all, sees all, understands all, feels all, every bit of it all, just as it is intended by men? Cardinal Sarah writes:
“In order that the world might be, and be for itself, God renounced His being.” What does that mean? “To make room for the world, the En-Sof (Infinite; literally, No-End) of the beginning had to contract Himself so that, vacated by Him, empty space could expand outside of Him: the ‘Nothing’ in which and from which God could then create the world.
Without this retreat into Himself, there could be no ‘other’ outside God.” We can guess his conclusion: In deciding on this withdrawal into himself so that man can exist, God becomes by that very fact a suffering God, because he will have to suffer because of man and be disappointed in him.
God will also be a concerned God, because he will entrust the world to agents other than himself, to free agents. In short, this is a God at risk, a God who incurs a proper risk. But then, that God is not an almighty God.
In order for the goodness of God to be compatible with the existence of evil, he must not be almighty. More exactly, it is necessary for this God to have renounced power. In the simple fact of allowing human freedom lies a renunciation of power. But if God is not powerful, then he is not God.
He is the Almighty, but, at the same time, he wants to permit man to be truly free. Because the omnipotence of God is the omnipotence of love; and the omnipotence of love is death.
The infinity of God is not an infinity in space, a bottomless, shoreless ocean; it is a love that has no limits. Creation is an act of infinite love. For Hans Jonas, the act of creation is a kind of divine “self-restraint”.
By dint of this, God’s silence and his allowing things to happen can receive an initial explanation. Human suffering mysteriously becomes suffering for God. In the divine nature, suffering is not synonymous with imperfection.”
Robert Cardinal Sarah, “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” (para 168-169). Ignatius Press. Also available on Kindle at Amazon.
and then we have Psalm 139:
|1||לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְדָוִ֣ד מִזְמ֑וֹר יְ֜הֹוָ֗ה חֲקַרְתַּ֥נִי וַתֵּדָֽע||For the conductor. Of David, a song. O Lord, You have searched me out and You know.|
|2||אַתָּ֣ה יָ֖דַעְתָּ שִׁבְתִּ֣י וְקוּמִ֑י בַּ֥נְתָּה לְ֜רֵעִֽ֗י מֵֽרָחֽוֹק||You know my sitting and my rising; You understand how to attach me from afar.|
|3||אָרְחִ֣י וְרִבְעִ֣י זֵרִ֑יתָ וְכָל־דְּרָכַ֥י הִסְכַּֽנְתָּה||My going about and my lying down You encompassed, and You are accustomed to all my ways.|
|4||כִּ֚י אֵ֣ין מִלָּ֣ה בִלְשׁוֹנִ֑י הֵ֥ן יְ֜הֹוָ֗ה יָדַ֥עְתָּ כֻלָּֽהּ||For there is no word on my tongue; behold, O Lord, You know it all.|
|5||אָח֣וֹר וָקֶ֣דֶם צַרְתָּ֑נִי וַתָּ֖שֶׁת עָלַ֣י כַּפֶּֽכָה||From the rear and the front You encompassed me, and You placed Your pressure upon me.|
|6||פְּלִ֣יאָה דַ֣עַת מִמֶּ֑נִּי נִ֜שְׂגְּבָ֗ה לֹֽא־אוּכַ֥ל לָֽהּ||Knowledge is hidden from me; it is hard, I cannot attain it.|
|7||אָנָ֣ה אֵלֵךְ מֵֽרוּחֶ֑ךָ וְ֜אָ֗נָה מִפָּנֶ֥יךָ אֶבְרָֽח||Where shall I go from Your spirit, and where shall I flee from Your presence?|
|8||אִם־אֶסַּ֣ק שָׁ֖מַיִם שָׁ֣ם אָ֑תָּה וְאַצִּ֖יעָה שְּׁא֣וֹל הִנֶּֽךָּ||If I ascend to the heavens, there You are, and if I make my bed in the grave, behold, You are there.|
|9||אֶשָּׂ֥א כַנְפֵי־שָׁ֑חַר אֶ֜שְׁכְּנָ֗ה בְּאַֽחֲרִ֥ית יָֽם||[If] I take up the wings of dawn, [if] I dwell at the end of the west,|
|10||גַּם־שָׁ֖ם יָֽדְךָ֣ תַנְחֵ֑נִי וְֽתֹ֖אחֲזֵ֣נִי יְמִינֶֽךָ||There too, Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will grasp me.|
|11||וָאֹֽמַ֗ר אַךְ־חֹ֥שֶׁךְ יְשׁוּפֵ֑נִי וְ֜לַ֗יְלָה א֣וֹר בַּֽעֲדֵֽנִי||I said, “Darkness will darken me, and the night will be as light about me.”|
|12||גַּם־חֹשֶׁךְ֘ לֹֽא־יַחְשִׁ֪יךְ מִ֫מֶּ֥ךָּ וְלַיְלָה כַּיּ֣וֹם יָאִ֑יר כַּֽ֜חֲשֵׁיכָ֗ה כָּֽאוֹרָֽה||Even darkness will not obscure [anything] from You, and the night will light up like day; as darkness so is the light.|
|13||כִּֽי־אַ֖תָּה קָנִ֣יתָ כִלְיֹתָ֑י תְּ֜סֻכֵּ֗נִי בְּבֶ֣טֶן אִמִּֽי||For You created my reins, You covered me in my mother’s womb.|
|14||אֽוֹדְךָ֗ עַ֚ל כִּ֥י נֽוֹרָא֗וֹת נִ֫פְלֵ֥יתִי נִפְלָאִ֥ים מַֽעֲשֶׂ֑יךָ וְ֜נַפְשִׁ֗י יֹדַ֥עַת מְאֹֽד||I shall thank You for in an awesome, wondrous way I was fashioned; Your works are wondrous, and my soul knows it very well.|
|15||לֹֽא־נִכְחַ֥ד עָצְמִ֗י מִ֫מֶּ֥ךָּ אֲשֶׁר־עֻשֵּׂ֥יתִי בַסֵּ֑תֶר רֻ֜קַּ֗מְתִּי בְּתַחְתִּיּ֥וֹת אָֽרֶץ||My essence was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, I was formed in the lowest parts of the earth.|
|16||גָּלְמִ֚י | רָ֘א֚וּ עֵינֶ֗יךָ וְעַל־סִפְרְךָ֘ כֻּלָּ֪ם יִכָּ֫תֵ֥בוּ יָמִ֥ים יֻצָּ֑רוּ וְל֖וֹ אֶחָ֣ד בָּהֶֽם||Your eyes saw my unformed body, and on Your book they were all written; days have been formed and one of them is His.|
|17||וְלִ֗י מַה־יָּֽקְר֣וּ רֵעֶ֣יךָ אֵ֑ל מֶ֥ה עָֽ֜צְמ֗וּ רָֽאשֵׁיהֶֽם||And to me, how dear are Your friends, O Lord! How great is their sum!|
|18||אֶסְפְּרֵם מֵח֣וֹל יִרְבּ֑וּן הֱ֜קִיצֹ֗תִי וְעוֹדִ֥י עִמָּֽךְ||I shall count them; they are more numerous than sand; I have come to the end, and I am still with You.|
|19||אִם־תִּקְטֹ֖ל אֱל֥וֹהַּ | רָשָׁ֑ע וְאַנְשֵׁ֥י דָ֜מִ֗ים ס֣וּרוּ מֶֽנִּי||If only You would slay the wicked, O God, and men of blood, “Turn away from me.”|
|20||אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֹֽ֖מְרוּךָ לִמְזִמָּ֑ה נָשׂ֖וּא לַשָּׁ֣וְא עָרֶֽיךָ||Who mention You with wicked thought; Your enemies took it up in vain.|
|21||הֲלוֹא־מְשַׂנְאֶ֖יךָ יְהֹוָ֥ה | אֶשְׂנָ֑א וּ֜בִתְקֽוֹמְמֶ֗יךָ אֶתְקוֹטָֽט||Did I not hate Your enemies, O Lord? With those who rise up against You, I quarrel.|
|22||תַּכְלִ֣ית שִׂנְאָ֣ה שְׂנֵאתִ֑ים לְ֜אֹֽיְבִ֗ים הָ֣יוּ לִֽי||I hate them with utmost hatred; they have become my enemies.|
|23||חָקְרֵ֣נִי אֵ֖ל וְדַ֣ע לְבָבִ֑י בְּ֜חָנֵ֗נִי וְדַ֣ע שַׂרְעַפָּֽי||Search me out, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.|
|24||וּרְאֵ֗ה אִם־דֶּֽרֶךְ־עֹ֥צֶב בִּ֑י וּ֜נְחֵ֗נִי בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ עוֹלָֽם||And see whether there is any vexatious way about me, and lead me in the way of the world.|
Old testament all the way, and then came Jesus Christ who gave us His new commandment … “Love your enemies … ” they are all children of God the Father, who the Father loves better than the best father in this world, and for whom and with whom he exercises divine Self-restraint … always offering the light of conversion, the peace of repentance.