The Love Of God
The foundation for our catholic faith is God's unchanging love for us. "Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us." (1 John 4:19).
Right through the history of the nation of Israel God sought to impress upon them the enduring nature of His love. He loved them with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3; Deuteronomy 4:37). He told them that the response that He sought was their love in return (Deuteronomy 6:5). But they were just like us. They constantly doubted His love. And yet God kept on loving them. When they complained that He had forgotten them, He replied in those tender words of Isaiah 49:15: "Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? and if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee." A mother may not think of her grown-up children all the time; but if she has a child on her breast, there is hardly a moment of her waking hours when her thoughts will not be upon that child. When she goes to sleep at night, her last thought is about that baby sleeping beside her. If she wakes in the middle of the night she looks at her child again, to see if all is well. When she finally wakes up in the morning, her first thought is again about her sucking child. Such is a mother's care for her little one. Even so, God says, does He care for His own.
The book of Hosea also stresses this. The painful experience that Hosea went through in his own personal life was a parable of God's attitude to Israel. His love, it tells us, endures as does that of a faithful husband to an unfaithful wife.
The Lord has also placed the Song of Solomon in the Bible to picture this great truth of the faithfulness of the divine Lover to His wayward bride.
Our faith needs to be founded firmly upon this fact - that all of God's dealings with us are based upon His love. The words "He will be silent in His love " in Zephaniah 3:17, have been translated: "He is silently planning for you in His love." Do we realize that every single thing that God allows to enter into our lives comes from a heart that is planning for us in love? Every trial and problem that has come into your life and mine has been planned for our ultimate good. When He ruins our plans, it is in order to save us from missing His best. We may not be able to understand it all fully on earth. But if we recognize that there are no second causes, and that everything comes from the hands of a loving God, it would take away all the worries and fears and hard thoughts that normally plague us. It is because believers are not firmly established upon this truth that these anxieties and cares arise in their minds, and they remain strangers to the "peace of God that passeth understanding " and the "joy unspeakable and full of glory" of which the Bible speaks.
The ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was very often a corrective to the false conceptions that even religious people of His day, well read in the Old Testament scriptures, nevertheless had about their God. Everything about Jesus, His healing the sick, His comforting words to the sorrowing, His loving invitation to those burdened with sin, His patience with His disciples and finally His death on the Cross, all showed the loving nature of the heart of God. How often He impressed upon His disciples that their heavenly Father loved them and cared for their every need. How often Jesus rebuked them for doubting their Father. If earthly fathers knew how to provide for their children, how much more would their loving heavenly Father provide for them (Matthew 7:9-11).
The parable of the prodigal son was also intended to show them God's great forgiving love towards his wayward, rebellious children. By irresistible logic, by parable and by personal example Jesus sought to correct the erroneous views that His generation had about God. In His final prayer before He went to the cross, He prayed that the world may know of God's love (John 17:23). May God imprint deeply and eternally upon our hearts these assurances from His Word of the truth of His infinite and unchanging love for us, for faith in God can grow on no other soil but this.