God's Great Kindness: A Source of Freedom
Today’s readings started out making me feel less-than-loved: (“you worm Jacob, you maggot Israel”). The psalm made me feel better, with its reassurance that “the Lord is merciful; slow to anger and of great kindness,” but I was left ultimately wondering what is God’s attitude towards us? Armed with the notion of a merciful God, I looked at the reading from Isaiah a second time and found a message that was consistent with the psalm. The Lord is merciful and kind, and through that mercy and kindness, we will be taken care of. As Isaiah tells us, God promises not to
forsake those in need.
I find this promise of a loving, merciful God quite comforting, both personally and communally. On a personal level, being reminded that “the Lord is good to all,” even when I’m not at my best, is reassuring. The image of a God of “great kindness,” a God who actively reaches out to me to offer comfort and compassion, helps me understand God’s unconditional commitment to us.
But the greatest comfort I find in today’s reading is on a collective or communal level. When I think, for example, of the homeless in Seattle, or those who eek out a living asking for handouts on freeway off-ramps or selling Real Change, I am sometimes paralyzed by my lack of ability to make a significant difference. I know I’m invited/challenged by Jesus’ example in the gospels to do something, but I’m also aware of how little my efforts do to solve the problem. Today’s readings remind me of two important things. First, my actions are part of God’s kindness, a kindness available to us both through a personal relationship with God and also through our interactions with others. And second, I’m but a small part of God’s presence in the world. I’m invited to focus not on how I can solve these significant social problems, but rather on what I can do and how what I do reflects God’s care for both me and those who need help.
Dr. Matt Barmore is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and a member of the English Department at Seattle Prep. He is
also Director of the Ignatian Spirituality Center. He and his wife, Nancy, are parents to Rachel `06 and Nate `08.