Malankara World

The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales

By Jean Pierre Camus


ST. FRANCIS DE SALES UPON THE JUSTICE AND MERCY OF GOD

You ask me a question which would be hard for me to answer had I not the mind of our Blessed Father to guide and assist me in the matter.

You say: Whence comes it that Almighty God treated the rebel Angels with so much severity, showing them no mercy whatever, and providing for them no remedy to enable them to rise again after their fall; whereas to men He is so indulgent, patient towards their malice, waiting for them to repent, long suffering, and magnificent in His mercy, bestowing on them the copious Redemption of the Saviour?

Well, He tells us in his Treatise on the Love of God [1] that: "The angelic nature could only commit sin from positive malice, without temptation or motive to excuse, even partially. Nevertheless, the far greater part of the Angels remained constant in the service of their Saviour. Therefore God, who had so amply glorified His mercy in the work of the creation of the Angels, would also magnify His justice; and in His righteous indignation resolved for ever to abandon that accursed band of traitors, who in their rebellion had so villainously abandoned Him."

On man, however, He took pity for several reasons. First, because the tempter by his cunning had deceived our first father, Adam; secondly, because the spirit of man is encompassed by flesh and consequently by infirmity; thirdly, because his spirit, enclosed as it is in an earthly body, is frail as the vessel which enshrines it, easily overbalanced by every breath of wind, and unable to right itself again; fourthly, because the temptation in the Garden of Eden was great and over-mastering; fifthly, because He had compassion on the posterity of Adam, which otherwise would have perished with him; but the sixth, and principal cause was this: Almighty God having resolved to take on Himself our human nature in order to unite it to the Divine Person of the Word, He willed to favor very specially this nature for the sake of that hypostatic union, which was to be the masterpiece of all the communications of Almighty God to His creatures.

Do not, however, imagine that God so willed to magnify His mercy in the redemption of man that He forgot the claims of His justice. No, truly; for no severity can equal that which He displayed in the sufferings of His Son, on whose sacred Head having laid the iniquities of us all, He poured out a vengeance commensurate with His Divine wrath.

If, then, we weigh the severity displayed by God towards the rebel Angels against that with which He treated His Divine Son when redeeming mankind, we shall find His justice more abundantly satisfied in the atonement made by the One than in the rigorous punishment of the others. In fine here, as always, His mercy overrides His judgments, inasmuch as the fallen Angels are punished far less than they deserve, and the faithful are rewarded far beyond their merits.

[Footnote 1: Bk. ii c. iv.]

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