The Last Installment of My Series on God the Father…

The Last Installment of My Series on God the Father… September 20, 2018

over at The Catholic Weekly:

In Christ, God himself takes the lowest place along with every forgotten murder victim, every bullied kid, every weeping refugee–and even every raging persecutor like Saul of Tarsus.  The Almighty was never mightier than when he submitted to this kind of humiliation and death—and conquered it with love and mercy and not bitterness and vengefulness.

But the Tradition also assures us that God the Father is “impassible”.  That is, nothing can ever take from God his perfect happiness, love, and joy.  All the spite of men and devils will never wound God the Father.  To get the hang of why this is good news for us, struggling in this life, I point to the image of Samwise Gamgee, lying in a dark pit in Mordor and peering up at the night sky in The Lord of the Rings:

Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.

And so this pattern of divine humility–of omnipotence displayed through struggle and frustration and smallness and death, yet coupled with unbreakable and unconquerable Joy at the very heart of Reality–is seen throughout Scripture as God grapples with his creatures, shows all the frustration of an artist working with a recalcitrant clay or a director working with a rebellious cast and yet never does the obvious thing any almighty human would do by just destroying the whole thing in exasperation. Instead he turns even betrayal, humiliation, defeat, and death into the medium of a redemptive work that is greater than mere creation.  He is more radically in favor of the good, of joy, and of the love of his creatures than they are themselves.

So the great secret that St. Thomas understands and that we overlook is that if God wished to destroy the world, he would not have to do anything.  He would have to stop doing something

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