Fourth Sunday after Easter—28 April A.D. 2013
Our Unchanging God
“Every perfect gift is from above, coming
down from the Father of Lights,
That's a beautiful passage isn't it—the opening of today's Epistle. “The Father of Lights” speaks to God in His role as creator—the one who set the universe on its course, and set the stars with precision in the sky. And it calls attention to one of the more important aspects of Almighty God—that He never changes—that He is perfect—and that He will never undergo even a “shadow” of alteration.
And this is not just Saint James’ idea. We find similar statements about God's unchangeability throughout the Sacred Scriptures:
The Psalmist addresses God: “Thou art always the selfsame, and thy years shall not fail.”
Ecclesiasticus tells us that “He is from
eternity to eternity, and to Him nothing may be added, nor can He be
In Malachy, God testifies that “I am the Lord, and I change not.”
We heard Saint Paul’s words to the Hebrews a few weeks ago at the Easter Vigil: “Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today; and the same forever.”
Sometimes it is hard for us to appreciate the implications of God's unchanging nature, for we are creatures very much subject to change. For us, change can be a very beneficial thing—there would be no growth, no education, no maturity, no acquiring of skills or trades without it. We live in a world which has enjoyed tremendous technological change over the past few decades—bringing us some very good things.
But, of course change can also be harmful or even dangerous. Just think about that home “improvement” project that didn't quite improve things—when we cut down all of the trees, or painted the house a shade of yellow that was just a bit too bright. We have all known good people who have changed for the worse—who got lazy or spoiled, or whatever, as they went on in years. Change isn't always good. Even those improvements in technology are, so to speak, a “mixed bag;” sometimes they put people out of work, or open up new moral problems. Or simply waste our time.
One of the most serious problems of modern life is caused by people who want to change the unchangeable, or to claim that even the bad changes are really good ones. We call this “Modernism.” The “Modernist” is one who would like to tell you that God is changing. He would like you to believe that what used to be morally bad is now morally good—that what used to be false has somehow become true. In short, he is someone who contradicts what God Himself has revealed to be true.
And, we find such “Modernists” responsible for all of the changes which have been so disastrous—in society, in government, and even in the Church. Indeed, the Modernist is one who will claim that there is no such thing as “truth”—that there is no such thing “morality.” He will try to tell you that such things are all “evolving”—that mankind is on an upward spiral, getting more mature, getting better and better, and has outgrown such old fashioned concepts—that modern man defines his own “truth,” and his own “morality” on a minute to minute basis, and depending upon the circumstances at hand.
And it shouldn't surprise anyone that this same Modernist, when he gets around to thinking about it, will also try to tell us that there is no God—that God Himself is an “old fashioned concept” that modern man has outgrown and no longer needs. He may even try to tell you that all of mankind is evolving into its own “god.”
The problem with all of this is that it simply doesn't work! Tell a man that he can make up his own morality, and he will develop all of the vices you can name: he will become lazy, sensual, greedy, and perhaps violently so. You can bet that his own “morality” will be different from the “morality” he wants to see in his neighbor.
Tell a man that he is now the standard of “truth”? Do that, and you will make him a liar. And, if he actually believes you, he will become unable to cope with the world around him—as he “butts” his head against the harsh reality that the universe functions according to unchangeable laws, not subject to whimsical redetermination by foolish men.
Man cannot ignore the unchanging truth and morality built into the universe by its Creator. Man cannot ignore God, or make himself his own “god” without inviting disaster.
There is only one safe course for changeable man. If a man or a woman is to grow, or to mature, or to make true progress, he has to be constantly aiming at the unchangeable truths dictated by Almighty God. His reason will find these truths in creation—and his Faith will help him to know those things which God has revealed because God knows that our reason is weak or inadequate.
As our Lord tells us in the Gospel, the only safe course is found in God, the Holy Ghost, “the Spirit of Truth”—not in the worldly follies of sin, injustice, and judgment.
Our prayer then, is very well expressed in the Collect of this Mass—only it ought to be in our hearts every day, not just on this one Sunday:
“O God, grant to
Your people to love what You command,