A Note From Father Eickhoff

June 30, 2024

The opening lines of the first reading today taken from the Book of Wisdom bluntly state:

“God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome.”

 Sometimes people say that God is out to “get them,” that is to say that God is seeking to punish them for their actions in the here and now even unto death. Other times people say that God is actively working against them as if God is a malevolent being who wishes ill upon his creation. Neither of these statements is true of God. As the Book of Wisdom makes clear – and the many writings of the Church Fathers reinforce – God always seeks our good. The highest good is union with God in everlasting life and it is this good that God always seeks to move us towards.

Now it is true that God grants to us free will – that is the ability to choose our own actions in life – and with that freedom comes the responsibility to accept the consequences of our actions. An evil or negligent action on our part might very well have negative consequences not only upon our soul, but also our well-being in this life. God will not necessarily shield us from these consequences. Were God to simply automatically remove all baleful consequences from us then our free will would have no meaning. There can be no meaning to free will in sentient creatures if actions are divorced from consequences. God is not out to “get us,” but God will allow us to experience the negative consequences of our actions in the hope that we will not do such evil or negligent actions again and thus return to the way that leads to everlasting life.

To continue on with the previous line of thought we can say that God does sometimes send to us trials and difficulties that are meant not to punish, but to help steer us back to the right path that leads to our ultimate good. God, we can say, respects our free will, but is always trying to nudge us to use our free will in a way that leads back to Him. We can experience events that can be described as “penances” that are meant by God to help shape our ability to use our free will in the future in such a way that leads back to God. God does this so that our life does not end up being ultimately destroyed by our carrying out the wrong actions. Perhaps the best way to think of God in this matter is to realize that God is not an uninterested bystander to our lives, but rather is passionately desiring our good, and is seeking to aid us in every way that does not wreak our ability to freely choose Him.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Stephen Eickhoff