Do you realize how much God loves you? In the beginning of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul exclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement...” (verse 3). This one little verse tells us an awful lot about God the Father. First, He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, our Father, too, since we are members of Christ's Body. Jesus Himself cried out “Abba!” or “Daddy!” to His Father and invites us to do the same. Second, God is the Father of compassion. Our suffering touches His heart, and like any good father, He suffers along with us, feeling what we feel, sharing in our pain, our trials, and our disappointments. Third, God is the God of all encouragement. He comforts us in our suffering but not just by patting our heads and saying, “There, there, everything will be okay.” No, God gives us strength to endure our suffering. He assures us that He can bring good out of even the worst times of our lives. We, in turn, are to pass on the compassion and encouragement that our comforting Father gives us to us.
Tuesday – Shining with God's Light
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us to shine a light before others, to be a city on a hill, a lamp on a lampstand. Really, it isn't our own light that we shine; it's Jesus' light. When we are in a state of grace, God dwells within our very souls, and His light (when we let it) can radiate through us and touch the hearts of others. We can illuminate the world by our prayers, our good works, and especially our love, but we never do it alone. Our Lord shines through us, giving us the glow of His great love.
Wednesday – The Old Law and the New Law
As St. Paul says in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, the New Law of the Holy Spirit given by Jesus Christ far surpasses the Old Law that was written on stone tablets and followed by the Jews. The Old Law was a step in the process of salvation, a training ground, a method used by our wise Divine Teacher to accustom His people to His expectations and His level of morality. The Old Law could not save anyone. It made people very much aware of their sins, but it didn't take them away. That's why Paul calls it a “ministry of condemnation.” Yet it was still glorious. It was still the word of God. It was still God's plan for His people at that point in time.
Under the New Law, the Law of the Holy Spirit, however, God actually dwells in our souls. This New Law is inside us; it operates from the inside out to bring us into ever-greater intimacy with God and to carry us home to Heaven. With Jesus' death and resurrection, God has opened the gates of Heaven. He has saved us from our sins. He has given us forgiveness and made us His sons and daughters, coheirs with Christ. We are not saved by the words written on stone tablets; we are saved by God's great gift of sanctifying grace.
In the Gospel, however, Jesus makes it very clear that the Old Law has not been abolished but fulfilled. We must still follow the moral law that God has established for us. That hasn't changed. In fact, Jesus calls us to a new, even-higher level of morality of self-giving love, His kind of love. We have greater gifts now under the New Law, but we also have greater responsibilities.