Father Ignatius’s car had broken down just on the day he had to drive to the City miles away. Somehow, he was glad this had happened because, in all honesty, he hated to drive long distances, especially when it involved negotiating busy traffic in the City.
He phoned his local garage for help and, just as luck would have it, or was it a God-incidence, one of the managers was due to travel to the City that very day and he was happy to take Father Ignatius to his Conference and drive him back the same evening.
Oh, what a God send Gerald was as he and the priest set off on the long journey. For once, Father Ignatius could relax and not worry about the driving.
A few minutes into the journey Gerald started the conversation.
“I was thinking, Father,” he said, “do you reckon that God has mellowed with age?”
“What do you mean?” enquired the priest.
“Well …” continued Gerald, “in the Old Testament we see Him full of wrath and anger sending floods everywhere and pestilence on the Egyptians and all sorts of bad things to those who did not tow the line. He behaved like a right monster at times, thumping people on the head if they did not obey Him.
“And now we’re told He’s a loving, caring, forgiving Father who has our best interests at heart. Why do you think He changed strategy? Did His first plans not work?”
Father Ignatius laughed.
“I’m amused that you think I know all about God’s plans,” he said, “the Almighty does not confide in me you know …”
“Maybe not, Father! But you must admit it is a total change of tactics from anger and wrath … and you must admit the Bible says in the Old Testament things like vengeance is mine … and I am a jealous God … and all that. And now it’s all gentleness and sweet love … at least that’s what you priests lead us to believe.
“Why doesn’t God thump people on the head and into line these days? The world is going to ruin and His sweet love will get us nowhere …”
The priest laughed again at Gerald’s direct and forthright way of putting things.
“OK … let’s analyze what you’ve been saying …” said Father Ignatius, “on the face of it … it does appear that there’s a great contrast between the description of God in the Old Testament and the description in the New Testament.
“Now what I’m saying here is purely my opinion, you understand. I don’t have a hotline to God and I’m not privy to His strategies and plans …”
Gerald smiled and nodded.
“We tend to see God from our human perspective,” continued the priest, “we see Him with human understanding and we attribute to Him human qualities, plans, strategies, emotions and so on.
“But God is God. And man is man. We cannot possibly understand Him from our viewpoint, nor should we attempt to do so.
“Now it could well be … and this is me guessing here you understand Gerald … it could well be that the people at the time of the Old Testament were accustomed to being led … being guided … and told what to do.
“Can you imagine for instance one man … Moses … guiding a multitude of people out of Egypt, promising them a better life elsewhere, and going round in circles in the desert for forty years?
"This wouldn't happen today.
“In modern times people would have set up committees to discuss the project, appointed several managers to chair sub-committees and devised multiple budgetary plans and operational strategies … all before their poor overworked wives had time to pack the luggage and prepare the kids to leave Cairo.
“Yet in the Old Testament one man said let’s go … and they all went.
“True … they argued and rebelled along the way … and Moses dealt with it in a forthright manner as you advocate …”
“So it could well be that God treated people in the Old Testament days the way they expected to be lead and the way they understood,” said Father Ignatius, “With firmness where necessary … yet at all times with fairness and compassion."
“This is only my opinion … as I said."
“And it could be that in His own time, according to His will, God decided to send Jesus to us in human form to teach us … to show us God’s infinite love, and to forgive and redeem us through His death and Resurrection."
“Jesus in human form had to be kind, and gentle and compassionate to portray God’s infinite love. And He taught us in the Lord’s Prayer about a loving Father caring for His children and always ready to provide for them."
"It would have been pointless to have a ruthless commanding Jesus forcing people to obey Him. This does not depict God's love for us, which is so infinite, that He gave up His own Son to die for us."
“Hence the contrast between the Old and New Testaments …”
At this point a huge truck overtook their car and moved back into lane so close that Gerald had to swerve sharply in order to avoid a collision.
“Stupid idiot …” shouted Gerald, and then muttered something else unrepeatable under his breath.
After a moment or two as the two men calmed down a little, Gerald continued, “There are times Father, when I wish God would deal with people the old fashioned Old Testament way!”
Father Ignatius said nothing but prayed silently that God may forgive Gerald for his immediate reaction under pressure.
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