November 11, 2019

More Awesome than This?

Amid all the bad things that fill the front pages of our newspapers and are covered by the media in general, something reassuring is happening in our country and in other parts of the world: some divinely-enlightened parents act in a wiser and more disciplined way.

Senseless misfortunes and heartbreaking tragedies that have befallen children, especially in recent years have convinced these parents to protect their own in concrete and sensible ways. They are also determined to limit the influence of relativism and secularism in general and, more directly, to push back against the shameless interference of the government on their God-given rights to form their children as they see fit and to provide sound reasoning against the idiocies of most political correctness. If they can, they make significant sacrifices to home school their children.They limit TV watching time each day. Certain TV channels of course, are blocked off. Access to dangerous websites is denied. Website chatting is monitored. Video game time is also limited. Sound physical exercises replace loafing around and couch sitting. Likewise, healthy snacks are available whenever the kids ask for something to much on. It goes without saying it that they pray the Rosary or other prayers together in the evening and attend Holy Mass every weekend. 

To be fair to previous generations, it should be stated that this sincere and detailed caring for one’s children is nothing new. I could tell you of parents in their 60s, 70s, even 80s, who come to confession and tell me that they worry a lot about their “kids.” At times these grandparents or even great-grandparents still expect to run their children’s lives even if their “kids” have gray hair of their own. What we see happening nowadays is caring, protecting and guiding on a much broader spectrum; but the loving is still the same. With very rare exceptions, parents all over the world continue to show their love for their children for as long as their minds are sharp and they can take care of themselves.

All this I am telling you as a remote likeness of the love that God the Father has for us. The quality that stands out about genuine love is that it is always accompanied by sacrifices: the more intense the love, the more heroic the sacrifices.

Now, what sacrifices did God make to lead the heroic mother from the Second Book of Maccabees (7:1-2, 9-14) to encourage her sons to choose excruciating forms of torture and death rather than disowning Him? Don’t forget that we are talking here about the Old Testament; so God’s love and sacrifices were visible in His covenants, in His love for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in His deliverance from slavery in Egypt, in His walking with them through the desert for 40 years, in giving the Law and in taking Israel back every time she strayed away from Him.

I wonder if we, “spoiled” by the New Testament, would be so moved by God’s love and sacrifices in the Old Testament as to forfeit our life the way that woman and her children did. We are “spoiled” because there is a crescendo of love and sacrifices that God makes as we move from the Old to the New Testament. 

The apex of God’s sacrifice out of love for us is, of course, Jesus Christ. In Christ, God gives up His infiniteness to be confined by the limits of time and space as all human beings are. God becomes so small that He grows like any other baby in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He so limits Himself that He spends 30 years in the obscurity of Nazareth. He experiences and lives through all the limits that are part of our human nature.

But God’s sacrifice is actually bigger and more mind-boggling than that: God allows His only Son to be sacrificed to man’s wickedness on the cruelest instrument of torture of that time: a cross. Truth be told, God’s sacrifice out of love for us goes even past the loss of His Son Jesus: in Jesus, God becomes the only thing that He hates, He becomes SIN so that we may become His righteousness in Jesus! (cf. 2 Co 5:21)

So, it is impossible, even for God, to top the sacrifices that He has already made out of love for us. Let us keep this concept cemented to the back of our minds. That is the price that God paid for each one of us: we could not be more precious to Him. This is the proof that Jesus gives about our immortality, about the resurrection: there is not a chance that, after all this, the Father will toss us aside. God will never drop us, ignore us, and forget us in a corner of His heavenly home: He paid too much for us.

Even the best parents can love and sacrifice for their children for as long as their minds are functioning and they can manage with their aching and aging bodies. For God it is different: it is much, much better. It is part of the very nature of God to be ageless, to be almighty, to be eternal, without changes, without deteriorations or improvements, without… second thoughts.

Notice the present tense: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are as present to and as loved by Him as the last baby to be conceived today. All loved in God’s endless NOW. All living forever in God’s continuous NOW!!!

In between Abraham and the last baby born today, we must place all our loved ones who past on and ourselves. Then we must include all future generations as well, till the end of time. On this earth, He encourages us; He strengthens us; He guards us from evil better than any parent could possibly do. And, once we die, nothing really changes because we will cease having a past, a present and a future, to have just an eternal, endless NOW in God’s loving embrace.

Can you think of something more awesome than this?

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin

REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.

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Written by Fr Dino Vanin
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