Saturday, December 24, 2016
Two Words Say It All: “Steadfast Love.”
The Responsorial Psalm proclaims: “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 89: 2-9). The goodness celebrated here and in both the readings is God’s “steadfast love,” a phrase found 173 times in the Bible.
When Moses asked God, “Show me your glory,” God answered, “I will make all my goodness pass before you.” Then “the LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 33:12 to 34:6).
Steadfast love (in Hebrew hesed, in Greek charis) and faithfulness (Hebrew emet, Greek aletheia), which we find translated either as “grace and truth” or as “kindness and fidelity,” are the traits most characteristic of God. Together “they appear as a virtual definition of God” (Jerome Biblical Commentary on John 1:14). And John’s Gospel proclaims they were embodied in Jesus Christ: “The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace (charis) and truth (aletheia)” — or simply “filled with enduring love” (1970 New American Bible).
2Samuel 7: 1-16 shows God promising “steadfast love” to David, a promise he kept even though David, four chapters later, committed adultery and covered it up with murder (2Samuel 11).
Luke 1: 67-79 celebrates this same “steadfast love”: “Blessed be the Lord.… He has raised up for us a mighty Savior… as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets…. Thus he has shown the mercy promised…. and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore….”
If we are to be filii in Filio, true “sons and daughters in the Son of God,” we must strive to love as he loves; that is, to love on the level of God. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you…” (John 13:34). This is the greatest challenge in Christianity. And we meet it by letting Jesus himself love in and through us regardless of what is done to us: “God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
This is why we “sing forever the goodness of the Lord” It is because by “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” we share in “the love of the Father,” and can live with one another in “the communion of the Holy Spirit” (2Corinthians 13:14). This is the work of Jesus, “Son of God.”
Initiative: If you want to live life to the full, be Christ! Love like Christ. No matter what anyone does to you or others, love with the “enduring love” Jesus showed on the cross.