Monday, February 2, 2009

God's disposition toward mankind

"St. Isaac writes: “Accordingly the kingdom and Gehenna [hell] are matters belonging to mercy; they were conceived of in their essence by God as a result of His eternal goodness …. That we should further say or think that the matter is not full of love and mingled with compassion would be an opinion laden with blasphemy and an insult to our Lord God. By saying that He will even hand us over to burning for the sake of sufferings, torment and all sorts of ills, we are attributing to the Divine Nature an enmity towards the very rational beings which He created through grace; the same is true if we say He acts or thinks with spite and with a vengeful purpose, as though
He were avenging Himself.” With this in mind, St. Isaac’s reference of God being in hell, still trying to draw the demons and those there to love Him, is humanly fathomable. Based on his “mystical union with the love of God” (Alfeyev, 2000), St. Isaac would consider the final judgment as described in the Parable of the Last
Judgment (Matthew 25:31–4), that is, the separation of the sheep from the goats, to be the state of the soul at death. But it is a state not final or irreversible. Both demons and sinners would still have the possibility to respond, by God’s eternally
enduring merciful loving grace, so that “they will gaze towards God with the desire of insatiable love ….” This is not saying universal salvation will occur; it merely describes the disposition of God, Who is ever eternally loving, merciful and ready
to forgive." (Fr. George Morelli, WORD Magazine, February 2009)

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