God Is Our Loving Father

Friday of Week 12 in Ordinary Time - Cycle II

2 Kings 25:1-12 & Mt. 8:1-4

An important event in Jewish history, the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, is told in today's first reading. The king was captured and tortured, his sons were murdered and his people were deported to Babylon. The writer evidently intended this event to be remembered, for he states the actual day when it occurred.

This event and others like it might give the impression of an angry, vindictive God who is quick to punish His people for offending Him. In Old Testament times most people regarded God with fear. They expected to be judged severely. Wars, plagues and crop failures were seen as God's retribution. Only in rare cases, Iike the psalms of David and the prophetic writings of Isaiah, do we see a glimmer of what God is really like, of a loving and merciful God who cared about His people.

It is in the New Testament that Jesus reveals to us the truth about God. He is not a vengeful tyrant Whom we should fear or placate, but a loving, caring Father Whom we can love in return. We can approach Him confidently, addressing Him as “Our Father” - which the scribes and Pharisees found hard to accept, for they clung to their rituals and prohibitions. As far as they were concerned, worship of God was a matter of obeying the rules in every detail.

The good news which Jesus brought was like a light shining in a darkened world, enabling people to relate to God in a totally new way. This is demonstrated in today's Gospel. A leper approaches Jesus in a humble and hesitant manner, believing Jesus has the power to cure him but afraid that He will not want to do this. The man is immediately cured.

Sometimes, when life seems full of problems and setbacks, we may be tempted to think that God does not care. Some people might even think that they are being punished by God for some misdemeanour. At such times, we can re-read and remember this story of the leper. It reminds us, if we need reminding, that God's love never fails and He will help us in the way that He knows is best for us.

Heavenly Father, forgive us for being hesitant or fearful in approaching You. May we appreciate what a loving, caring Father You are and how You want us to run to You trustingly as children to their loving father.