Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God
By Mark Davis Pickup
Being one of the vulnerable populations at particular risk of COVID-19 (multiple sclerosis & hypertension), I haven’t attended church in months! I’ve been sequestered in my little house, watching weekly Catholic Masses on YouTube. The readings for 26 July 2020 were 1 Kings 3:5-10 and Romans 8:28-30, and the Gospel reading was Matthew 13:44-52. In the homily, Father Michael Coutts, S.J., of Toronto said that “all glory and riches and everything we have is transitory, it’s fleeting, it’s not going to last forever.” Indeed, we know that, and yet so many people behave as though riches and glory will last. They place too much value and emphasis on them.
The first reading tells us that God appeared in a dream to the young King Solomon at the beginning of his reign after the death of his father, King David. God asked him what he wanted. Solomon said:
Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.
God was pleased King Solomon did not request a long life or riches or revenge on enemies; rather he asked for wisdom. Not only did God make Solomon the wisest and most discerning man in history, He gave Solomon what he did not ask for: wealth and honour. And then God said: “And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” That brings me to a point about people who govern now.
Beware of politicians who govern solely based upon their own understanding. Someone seeking public office must understand that their own understanding is insufficient, limited, and weak. Figuratively speaking, they must govern on their knees and seek God to make the right decisions. Many secular and unbelieving politicians may assume a pious air when it suits them to gain support of religious voters. But their lives or voting records belie the facade. They are unworthy leaders who will not be led. They call good evil and evil good, such as the Democrats’ persistent and consistent support for abortion and the expansion of it. Leaders without moral rectitude, they sway with prevailing winds of fashionable, avant-garde thinking. They want to appear progressive regardless of how regressive the fashionable thinking may actually be. They adhere to political correctness more than actual correctness in matters of morality, policy, or law. We need lawmakers and politicians who pray for . . . well, to use an old saying, the wisdom of Solomon.
The second reading in the Mass was Romans 8:28-30. It begins with these words: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I love this chapter of Romans. Earlier it says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
I’ve been chronically ill for most of my adult life. So often I have clung to these verses. I needed to know there will be a glory of God that will dwarf any suffering I experience in this life, and that all things, even my pain, will ultimately work for my good.
Father Coutts said we may have infirmities, but we have a great treasure, and that treasure is hope. The hope Father Coutts referred to is not based on emotions, and he said that. The hope he spoke of is the hope that every Christian believer has experienced. This is true. I have personally witnessed that hope of God’s daily care for me in my earthly pilgrimage toward His eternal love. This daily care is not merely a series of coincidences. They are not coincidences, because God’s care is evident each day. Coincidences happen by chance. They are rare. The Divine care to which I am beneficiary of is constant. Coincidences are not constant or they would not be coincidences.
Father Coutts noted that the truth of the Gospel reading is brought to us from the past, and we should put it into practice in our present circumstances. Even with my disease-ridden body, I experience the daily effects of God’s care and the pledge of eternal life. It is a pledge to all who believe in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He paid on the cross for our sins: Belief, repentance, confession, and penance of my sins (which are many).
The Evil One accuses. God forgives. The Evil One tempts. God calls us to purity and holiness. Satan lures. God woos. Satan asks humanity to sin, then condemns us when we do. God wants to forgive our sins and bring us to Himself. There is no sin God will not forgive. Remember that King David was guilty of adultery and being an accessory to murder, and yet God forgave his repentant heart.
Sin may initially feel light and fun and taste sweet while we are committing it. But when our hearts convict us, that sin becomes bitter and weighs heavily on a guilty conscience. It becomes a burden.
Jesus calls to you and me: “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will rest for your selves.” Jesus gives release and rest from the burden and guilt of sin. At Calvary, He took on the weight of our sins. He gave His body and blood for you and me. He may have been betrayed by Judas, but I betray Him too, by my sins. Still He continues to give His body and blood in the bread and wine of the Blessed Sacrament, always calling me back to His rest and peace.
Father Coutts and priests all over the world consecrate the bread and wine at every Mass. They raise the bread and cup to become the body and blood of Christ.
At the time Christ was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion, He took bread and giving thanks, He broke it and gave to his disciples saying “Take this all of you and eat of it for this is my body which will be given up for you.” In a similar way, when supper was ended, He took the chalice and once more giving thanks He gave it to his disciples saying “Take this all of you and drink from it. For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal Covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.”
Christ gave us the bread of life and the chalice of salvation. We partake of them each time we receive His body and blood at Mass. But I cannot attend Mass! I’m in lockdown along with millions of other people. I can only look at the image on my computer screen and unite myself with Christ in spiritual communion: “As I cannot receive thee, my Jesus in Holy Communion, come spiritually into my heart and make it Thine forever.”
To the unbeliever, it is all foolishness. To those who know it to be true, it is the mystery of faith: It is through faith that my sins are forgiven. It is through hope that my crippled body draws nearer to Christ’s body that was once broken and is now perfected. Mine will be too. It is through the salvation message of the Gospel—that comes from across the centuries—that we can rest in Christ’s love, knowing we are forgiven. He takes away the burden of my sins, just as He can for you.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God!
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Saint Paul (Romans 8:38-39)
Mark Davis Pickup has lived with aggressive multiple sclerosis for over 36 years. Mark has spoken across the United States and Canada promoting the sanctity, dignity, and equality of all human life. He has addressed politicians and legislative committees (both Canadian and American), university forums, hospital medical staffs, religious and denominational leaders, community groups, and organizations about the critical importance of protecting all human life from conception to natural death. Mark is also a widely published writer on bioethical and Christian issues and has received numerous awards, including the Monsignor Bill Irwin Award for Ethical Excellence, the William Kurelek Award for fostering respect and appreciation for the dignity of human life (Canada), and a Governor General’s Medal for Community Service.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at humanlifematters.org/2020/07/nothing-can-separate-us-from-love-of-god_28.html.