Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
The words of the leper in the passage from the Gospel according to Matthew proclaimed this Sunday afford us the opportunity to think about the will of God, that which God desires.
We sometimes hear people who, in the face of their miseries, make assertions that would imply that God wills them to sin, as if God was indifferent to evil or even willed it since he created persons who experience in their lives passions and disordered inclinations, such as greed and lust, that lead us to do that which is objectively wrong.
One of the objections against the existence of God raised by atheists is the existence of evil. They claim that if God cannot stop evil, then He is not all powerful and if He does not want to stop it, then He is not good.
In the face of these fallacies, it is important to assert in no uncertain terms, that God is all powerful, He is almighty. God is omniscient, He knows everything. God is the one who is. Therefore, not only He is good, but He is goodness itself. Not only He tells the truth, but He is also truth itself. Everything that exists receives their being from Him. Everything that is beautiful, good, true comes from God. Evil in all its manifestations is repugnant to God because it is contrary to His nature.
Evil is a privation. Something is gone awry. Just like cold is explained by the absence of a source of heat, so it is with evil, something is lacking. The one who acts in an evil way has lost the connection as it were with the source of all goodness, who is goodness itself.
Human beings, who were created in the image and likeness of God, can do evil because we received the gift of free will from God. This gift can be abused to act in a way contrary to the will of God.
How is it possible then that God being all powerful, a creature could act against his will? It is true that God is almighty and strictly speaking nothing happens against the will of God. Yet, we must distinguish the active will of God, that which He positively wishes; from his passive will, that which God does not necessarily wish to happen but allows to happen.
We ought to strive to discern and realize in our lives the active will of God. That is what God positively wants for us. The prophet Micah gives us precise instructions when he says: “You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
The Lord positively wishes that we be saints, to heal our wounds, to lead us to the fullness of life. Yet he made us free. Obviously, our freedom is not absolute. Each one of us according to our vocation and the circumstances where Divine Providence has placed us must strive for holiness. Since God scrupulously respects our free will, it is possible to lose our way and do the evil that God does not wish, acting in a way contrary to the will of God. Those actions are allowed by God, who will find a way of drawing good, even from the evil we carry out. It is not that He allows evil to do good, rather, that in his infinite mercy and passionate love for us, given our iniquity, God will find a way to make goodness prevail.
An example from the Bible may clarify these points. God certainly did not want the children of Jacob to sell Joseph as a slave. Now, given the fact that they committed that horrible crime, a despicable action, God finds a way to bring good out of that. In due time, Joseph himself will deliver them from starvation and death.
We know that the Lord wishes us to do good always, everywhere. Because of our miseries, the blind spots of our culture, confusion, the consequences of original sin that has weakened our will and obscured our understanding, our personal sin, and the sins of others; at times it may be difficult for us to recognize good. However, the Lord always offers us the assistance of grace to do his will, to do good; and his mercy, to heal us when we err.
To know the active will of God, what he positively desires in the concrete circumstances of our life, it is imperative to cultivate an intense prayer life.
As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI taught us: In prayer, in the relationship with God, we open our mind, our heart and our will to the action of the Holy Spirit… Human logic, instead, often seeks self-fulfillment in power, in domination, in forceful means. Man still wants to build the Tower of Babel with his own efforts, to reach God’s heights by himself, to be like God. The Incarnation and the Cross remind us that complete fulfilment lies in conforming our human will to the will of the Father, in emptying ourselves of our selfishness, to fill ourselves with God’s love, with his charity, and thereby become capable of truly loving others.”
Fr. Roberto M. Cid