The concept of God
A Reflection for Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
Find today’s readings here.
“For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him?” (Dt 4:7)
The concept of God—a divinity who has control over mortals, knows of the future, lives forever—is hard to grasp. As someone who is getting a master’s degree in Latin and Greek, reading the Iliad and rereading the Percy Jackson series, I have thought a lot about the Greek (and Roman) gods over the past few months, while studying or while “studying.” (I can count reading Percy Jackson as study time, too, right?)
Each time a characteristic of the gods is described, I am reminded of how grateful I am that the one true God is nothing like them. These gods are mercurial, angry, ignorant—all very human characteristics, which makes sense, given that humans came up with them. The gods that people during Moses’, and even Jesus’, time could conceive of were more like humans who dwelled in the sky and lived forever. Agamemnon could never trust them to look kindly upon him as he and the Greeks were fighting the Trojans, because maybe a Trojan burned a more valuable offering to Zeus, or Zeus was not feeling very lenient to the Greeks that day.
These gods also existed far away from the people, forgetting about them or ignoring them when they did not feel like answering. But the Lord, the God of Israel, whom Moses describes to the people, is always at the side of his people. And today, God does not favor those who have “given up” the most for Lent, nor does he ignore those of us who forgot to pray today.
Think of all the times God showed up, in the covenants and when he spoke through the prophets: the dove to Noah, the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea and especially through the presence of his Son. He still shows himself today, even if you and I have never seen God’s hand so obviously as Moses did. He is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and merciful, slow to anger, kind—all things that pagan gods can never be all the time. Even when he feels impossibly far away, God is never going to abandon us, and he is always next to us.
This Lent, when I forget my Lenten promise, or anytime I sin, I can be assured that God will still listen to me—which does not mean I will always receive yeses to my prayers—even though I did not provide the perfect sacrifice. We are so privileged to have the merciful and all-knowing God who will never leave us behind, never give up on us, although we are mere mortals.