A Catholic Monthly Magazine

God Eternal

by Maria Kennedy

eternityIn the mystery of God there are three things that boggle my imagination - the unchanging nature of God, the eternal nature of God and, as a consequence of the first two, the enduring nature of God.

Since I am human all I know is change, so I cannot imagine God as an unchanging entity. In life all things have a beginning (conception) and an end point (death), so I cannot imagine God without beginning or end. Finally all things in this world eventually break down and decay. My husband calls this entropy, and to quote the Oxford Dictionary, entropy is a “measure of the degradation or disorganisation of the universe.” Since the entire universe is becoming more chaotic how can I imagine God who doesn’t need this measure and who endures intact for all eternity? It is all absolutely mind-boggling. From my human experience I understand the meaning of the words morning, sunshine and the number twelve. So what can I bring from my human experience to try and get a handle on these humanly ungraspable aspects of God?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that by knowing Him we know God. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9. Perhaps by looking at Jesus we can see the mystery of God revealed in Him.

Jesus was born, grew from boy to man and at 33 years of age he died. He grew up with his family. He became a carpenter. For the final three years of his life he went preaching from town to town. Jesus’s life was subject to change like ours, yet, as with some of us, there was a strong constant that threaded through Jesus’s entire life – his loving relationship with his mother.

Now suppose you took all the gospel records of Jesus and distilled it down to one moment, what would you possibly see? My reply to this is we would see the essence of love. As you know Jesus’s greatest act of love was shown in His death on the cross for our sins and this one act alone radiates to all of time, past, present and future. It has travelled down the ages to you and me, filled with the colour of the preceding years (including all those holy paintings!). But it has neither fallen apart, disintegrated, nor become more chaotic. Our faith, sustained in the Holy Spirit, has refused to let that happen.

It seems to me the mystery of God is found in love. That implicit in love, is God unchanging, God eternal, God enduring. When we look to the gospels we see Jesus talking about love as if love is all these things. Love is unchanging in the sense you don’t love one day and not the next. As we well know, you’re not just meant to love God on Sunday. Love is a constant effort to love others as we would love ourselves. Love has no limits. You don’t just love your friends; you also love your enemies. You don’t just forgive seven times but seventy-seven times. Love leads you to eternal life. Love endures.

Even though the son has taken off and spent all the inheritance money, the father still loves the son. Even though some have passed by the robbed and beaten man, compassion loves the victim and restores him not just to a safe place, not just to a well for a drink of water, not just to the inn for a good night’s rest, but to an inn until full health is restored, and if insufficient payment is made, the rest will be given on compassion’s return journey, and then some more if more is required. Love never erodes and falls apart, but continues on as if without end and with a fullness and generosity that knows no bounds. When Jesus established his Kingdom on earth he said the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Christ’s love will endure.

The mystery of God is found in love. I still don’t experience a human understanding of God unchanging, God eternal, God enduring in the same way as I understand the concepts of morning, sunshine and the number twelve. Yet God is love. Rather than grasping God intellectually, I experience God. This occurs first in the love of my family, God’s gift to me, and then, like outward expanding ripples, I further experience God in wider and wider parts of the community where I live. In a single act of loving well we experience God. Surrounded by this love, there is all of God, and hence, we taste eternity.

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