God’s Breaking Point
Every parent, no matter how patient, has a breaking point. Even a parent who can tolerate endless noise and outrageous disobedience from his children will finally blow up when his breaking point is reached. In the First Reading, God tells us what his breaking point is. It has to do with those people who are aliens and orphans.
Some people live as strangers in a strange land; they are aliens in their own communities. And some people lack love and care. They are like orphans, alone, without a home.
You might suppose that these aliens and orphans are easy to recognize. They are the ones without money, or the ones without a family, you might think. But there you would be mistaken. People rarely are so transparent. There can be aliens and orphans among the rich and powerful, just as there can be much loved and cared for people who live among the poor. You just don’t know.
But here is what we do know, from the First Reading. If something you do makes someone, who lives as an orphan or an alien, cry to God in his suffering, God will lose all patience with you. He will blow up at you, and sooner or later you will know what it is to have made God angry at you.
This ought to be a very alarming prospect to us.
But what is the point of this thought? Is it to make us always anxious and scared of God? No, of course not! What good would we be to anyone in that condition?
The point is rather to make us watchful of the way in which we treat any one of God’s children. Let us look at each person who crosses our path, each one, rich or poor, obnoxious or likeable, as under the protection of the God who is Father in Heaven to us all. Let us make sure that we do not cause any person to cry to God by what we say or do to him. And let us join with God in losing all patience with those who afflict God’s hopeless or homeless children.
Then what we will know is not the wrath of the Lord, but the joy that comes from being with God in his love.
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
**From Saint Louis University