Was is St Thomas Aquinas who observed that the Law and the commandments laid down for the people of Israel, and even the new law of the Gospel, would kill, if it had not been for the grace and the mercy of God, revealed in and by Jesus?
The Gospel passage we heard this morning at Mass, of Joseph’s intention to quietly divorce Mary so as not to draw down scandal – and even death – upon her, seems to make this observation a startlingly real fact – it seems to manifest the logical consequence of transgressing the law, or of rigidly observing it.
Thank God for the angel of mercy who visited Joseph as he slept, and for Joseph’s faith without ever having really seen the face of the Lord, Who was calling him to follow Him – for his courage to follow Him and to trust Him.
O Ruler of the House of Israel
Who gave the law to Moses on Sinai
come and saveA us with outstretched arm.
The Lord – Adonai – is for us a Leader whom we have never seen ... and when we look around us at the leaders we can see, we are bound to agree with the prophecy of Isaiah:
“...to whom can you compare me, equate me,
To whom claim I am similar, or comparable...?”
Yet, it seems, that we have always had an instinct for the kind of qualities a leader should have, for the kind of leader who cares for us and saves us, despite all the ways we fail to understand His plan for us, and even might be tempted to think we pass unnoticed by His gaze.
As was written in the Epistle to Diognetus, our Adonai, our Leader, our God –
“has always been, and is still, and ever shall be: merciful, kind, slow to anger and true.”
All our leaders fall short of our expectations and our need, and God so far surpasses them that we could never even have hoped for such mercy, had He not come down to us and given Himself to us.
It is almost beyond belief that our Father should know what we would make of the Law He gave Moses on Sinai and that we would need more from Him, than precepts to live by:- and that in His mercy, kindness and patience He should offer us His Son, the face of Truth, to suffer and die for us in love.
May our celebration again this year of the Lord’s nativity re-awaken us to this wonder; re-kindle our gratitude for His gift of faith; and renew our commitment to follow Him ever more closely.
“I look to the Lord; I will await the God who saves me.”
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