The closeness of our compassionate God

The closeness of our compassionate God
The Loving God

By Wilfrid Harrington OP (Columba €12.99./ £10.85)

Anthony Redmond


Albert Einstein once said that the religious person was one who had found an answer to the question: ”What is the ultimate meaning of life?”

For the atheist, there is no answer to the ultimate yet immediate questions of human life. Ivan Karamazov says: ”If there is no God, then everything is permitted.”

The atheist writer, Jean Paul Sartre, referred to human life as ”a useless passion”. Moral values have no real meaning without God.

Belief in God gives reason, support and ultimate meaning to reality. But what image do we have of God? How do we conceive of Him?

Wilfrid Harrington is an Irish Dominican. He is professor emeritus of the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy. The Loving God is his 51st book. In this thought-provoking book, he emphasises the love and compassion of God.

”Over the years I have written of God — the God revealed in the Old Testament and the God revealed in and by Jesus Christ,” he writes, ”I have discerned a striking consistency in revelation and have perceived a wondrously attractive and deeply comforting portrait of our God. Here, together with fresh insights, I draw on aspects of these studies. My hope is to display something of the God who is the Abba of Jesus — and our Abba too. I claim no more than this is the God I discover in the Bible. This is the God in whom I believe — the God of my hope.”

He continues: ”Paul reminds us that ‘now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face’ (1 Corinthians 13:12) We may, here and now, glimpse the true God and be comforted and sustained. We can be sure that the gracious God who will welcome us home is a loving God wholly beyond our fondest imagining.”

Throughout the book, the author stresses that God does not stand aloof from or above his creatures but rather identifies with suffering humanity and our frail human condition.

He writes: ”In God, in total dependence on God, there is no place for fear. The resurrection of Jesus makes that clear, for the raising of Jesus from death is God’s endorsement of the definition of God established on the cross.

”It is there he defines himself against all human caricatures of him. God, in the cross, is a radical challenge to our hubris, our pride. He is the God who has entered, wholly, into rejection and humiliation.

”He is the God present in human life where to human eyes he is absent. He is God of humankind. He is God for us — all because he has made his self known to us in the Son who is ‘like us in all things’.”

We are encouraged to see God as a loving, caring and infinitely patient parent who is ever ready to forgive our faults and failings.

In all the anguish and almost despair of our lives, with emotional and physical pain and dreadful economic worries, we turn our eyes and thoughts to a God of love and infinite compassion, a God who enters into our human condition and identifies with our suffering.

This little book may help us to realise that God is close to us even in the darkest moments of our lives. We desperately need to be reminded of this. It’s really the only thing that makes life bearable and meaningful.