A God merciful and gracious

Cathal Barry takes a look at the Churchís teaching that God is love

After Israelís sin, when the people had turned away from God to worship the golden calf, God hears Mosesí prayer of intercession and agrees to walk in the midst of an unfaithful people, thus demonstrating his love.

When Moses asks to see his glory, God responds: ìI will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name ëthe Lordí.î Then the Lord passes before Moses and proclaims, ìYHWH, YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulnessî; Moses then confesses that the Lord is a forgiving God.

The Catechism states that the divine name, ìI Amî or ìHe Isî, expresses Godís faithfulness: Despite the faithlessness of humanityís sin, he keeps ìsteadfast love for thousandsî (Exodus 34:7). By going so far as to give up his own Son for us, God reveals that he is ìrich in mercyî (Ephesians 2:4). By giving his life to free us from sin, Jesus reveals that he himself bears the divine name: ìWhen you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am heî (John 8:28).


God, ìHe who isî, revealed himself to Israel as the one ìabounding in steadfast love and faithfulnessî (Exodus 34:6). These two terms express summarily the riches of the divine name. According to Church teaching, in all his works God displays, not only his kindness, goodness, grace and steadfast love, but also his trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness and truth.

The Church teaches that God is truth itself, whose words cannot deceive. This is why one can abandon oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of his word in all things.


The Catechism states that Godís truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world. God, who alone made Heaven and Earth, can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself.

God is also truthful when he reveals himself and the Church holds that the teaching that comes from God is ìtrue instructionî (Malachi 2:6).

The Catechism also compares Godís love for Israel to a fatherís love for his son. But St John goes even further when he affirms that ìGod is loveî. The Church teaches that Godís very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.