Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
The wrath of God is indeed being revealed.
What is this “wrath of God” that Paul talks about here? How can a God of mercy, love, and compassion also be wrathful? Even more important: does the idea of a wrathful God mean we should live in constant fear of him?
Absolutely not! Think of all the times Jesus told his disciples “Fear not.” Think of all the ways Jesus told us that we have a loving Father in heaven who wants nothing more than to set us free from sin. Or think about St. Paul’s words to the Ephesian church, assuring all of us that we can have “boldness of speech and confidence of access” through faith in the Lord (3:12). How can we be bold and confident and at the same time be anxious and fearful?
One thing is clear: Talk of God’s wrath emphasizes how very real, and serious, sin is. Sin divides us from each other. It separates us from God. It causes rivalry and enmity. It causes us to dwell in wrath and resentment and fear and shame. Sin is serious enough, in fact, that Jesus had to go to the cross to defeat it.
But sin can also be forgiven. Always. In everyone. Every time someone turns to the Lord. Yes, Paul wrote that the wrath of God is being revealed. But so too is the mercy of God. So too is the love of God. So too is his tender compassion for every person trapped in sin.
It’s this redemption from the power of sin that we celebrate every time we gather for Mass. We may begin by praying, “Lord, have mercy,” but then we move on to rejoice in that mercy in the Gloria, to recall its revelation in the Creed, and to share it with one another at the Sign of Peace. Then, best of all, our Father offers us not wrath but the Bread of Life and the Chalice of Salvation.
We know that we are not worthy for Jesus to enter under our roof. But he has said the word, and our hearts have been healed. Where once there was sin—and, with it, wrath—now there is only mercy and salvation.
“Jesus, teach us to live in peace under the protection of your mercy.”
Word Among Us