God Is by Our Side Despite Our Betrayal, Retreatants Told

On the Second Day of Pope’s Spiritual Exercises

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2003 (Zenit.org).- God is by our side despite our betrayal, as his mercy knows no bounds, retreatants at the Vatican heard.
<br> The second day of the weeklong Spiritual Exercises, attended by John Paul II and officials of the Roman Curia, was dedicated by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the preacher, to reflect on God’s intervention in history.

«We have discovered that by walking in the paths of men, God manifests his face, which we would never have been able to imagine: a face of goodness, tenderness, infinite mercy,» he told Vatican Radio when summarizing his preaching today.

To illustrate God’s relation with each man and woman, Archbishop Comastri recalled first the dialogue between God and Moses, in Exodus 3:13-14, in which the prophet asks: «If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?»

God said to Moses: «I am who am,» the preacher continued in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. «Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I Am has sent me to you.'»

«It seems like a play on words, but the meaning is understood in the Hebrew original,» the archbishop explained. «In Hebrew, the verb ‘to be’ does not have the abstract meaning it has for us Westerners today.

«In Hebrew, the verb ‘to be’ means to be by the side. For the Semite, a person exists if he is ‘by the side.’ If he is not by the side, it is as if he is not.»

«Therefore,» the preacher added, «God wants to say to Moses: ‘Look, Moses, I am the one who is always by your side. I am the one who has united himself to you all, to you […] I am the God who loves.'»

«This is God’s name,» Archbishop Comastri continued. «This is God’s revelation. And in the history of salvation it is understood that this mercy of God must constantly face the infidelity of man: God loves man, but man gets tired of God.

«God is like a husband in love with humanity, but this humanity is a really extravagant, capricious bride. The prophets went so far as to say: ‘she is a prostitute.'»

And yet, «here is the great news: God remains faithful. God is merciful and faithful,» he stressed.

He said that through the prophets, particularly Hosea, God says to us, «I love humanity to the point of folly, and humanity is not faithful. But I continue to love her and to challenge her with my faithful love.»

And this promise led the prophet Jeremiah to proclaim the «new covenant»: «I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people» (Jeremiah 31:33).

«It is the announcement of the great event of the Incarnation, the coming of the Son of God,» the preacher concluded.

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