by William Deatherage, Executive Director
God didn’t have to make us. St. Anselm’s ontological proof of God shows that it is evident that God alone, with or without the universe, is the ultimate form of perfection. Now that’s not to say that we detract from His perfection, rather it means that our existence doesn’t really add anything to God’s goodness. In short, God doesn’t need us.
This is precisely why in today’s readings, Wisdom emphasizes our great dependency on God: “And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?” (WIS 11). It’s why the Psalm commands us to praise God forever: “I will extol you, O my God and King, and I will bless your name forever and ever.” (PS 145).
St. Paul expresses the need for prayer, so that we may be made worthy of God’s promises: “We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith,” (2 THES 1). But none of that HAS to be the case. As I said before, God did not have to make any world or universe. This means that our creation is a creation out of the greatest love imaginable.
In this context, this all makes our Christian story so remarkable. Christ came into a world that hated Him, the very God who created us out of a pure act of love. For centuries beforehand, the Israelites struggled to stay faithful to God, breaking covenant after covenant. And how did God respond? He sent us His only Son to dwell among us, not on a throne, but sitting with tax collectors, extending kindness and mercy to the most notorious of sinners.
“‘Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” cried out Zacchaeus, the tax collector whom Christ dined with. “And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”‘ (LK 19)
Let us remember our place in the world, infinitely far from the God who made us. It is by the grace of God alone that we can even hope to know Him. Not only that, though, but even when we betray God, we are forgiven upon request, just as the Israelites were, time after time. Thus, an infinite act of power comes with an infinite act of love. Our very existence is a blessing, and it is important to recognize what Christ sacrificed for us so that we may live. And so, our tendency to stigmatize sinners must instead turn into a form of love and kindness that we show them, just like Christ showed us as He hung on a cross.