Our readings this Sunday present a beautiful consistency between the Old Testament and New.
The First Reading recounts Moses' reception of the Ten Commandments. When Moses had taken the tablets, "the Lord passed before Moses, and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.'"
The Gospel reading is John's well-known passage: "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."
Moses did not hear words of condemnation or threat, but rather he was given the context of the Ten Commandments. They were given to help the people live in a way that they would not create an obstacle to God's mercy and grace; so that they could delight in his steadfast love and faithfulness.
For as Jesus said, "God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
I have, many times over the years, tried to grasp what God's love for us is like. I've desired this both because I know that to experience being loved is transforming and to see others as loved with that same love would be equally transforming.
So often the great saints began with that kind of experience, knowing the reality of God's mercy and grace in such a way that they could never go back to a life of selfishness and self-will.
But we do not need a supernatural event in order to be drawn into God's life of love. We simply need to allow the love that is manifested in human life to do its work on us.
The longer I live, the more I recognize the lessons and truth that God has written into the nature and rhythms of human life. I had such an experience in this last week.
I spent the best part of Sunday afternoon sitting on my couch holding my first grandchild, a tiny 10-day-old baby girl. She still has the newborn look, that unselfconscious preoccupation with the comforts and discomforts of the moment. Completely dependent, completely unsullied by self-will, she is both wholly herself and the essence of who she will become.
As I sat, holding her, I became more and more enamoured of her. A feeling of love and protection and desire for all good things for her steadily grew within me. I wanted her to know me, and love me and trust me. I wanted her to have life, and have it to the full.
I think that moment gave a glimpse of God's love for me, for us. It's not about condemnation, rather it is a great unfolding of God's love wooing us into his kingdom. He has carved us in the palm of his hand, like a mother he yearns for us. He wants us to know him, to love him and trust him. He wants us to have life, and have it to the full.
(Kathleen Giffin firstname.lastname@example.org)