In the catechism program here in the parish, children have to have a little booklet signed every time they go to Mass, so it’s documented whether they and their parents went to Sunday Mass. The Sunday celebrations of the Word “count” for this, so now I have to sign these kids’ little booklets. What normally happens is that all the kids come to surround the priest after the Mass is over, when he asks to sign their booklets.

So I did something different: I asked to sign the booklets before the celebration began. When I asked the kids how they felt starting the celebration with the booklets already signed, they said, “Better!” That’s a little taste of God’s freedom. What do I mean?

When the Israelites were freed from Egypt, the first thing they did was stop at Mount Sinai. Then God led Moses up the mountain and gave him the Ten Commandments. The first word of the Ten Commandments is God’s name. Do you know what that means? That means that the first thing that God did when He set the Israelites free was sign their little booklet.

Now, right after that, Moses comes down the mountain, and the Israelites are worshipping a golden calf. Well, here’s my question: God knows everything, He knew they’d be worshipping the golden calf. He knew they’d whine in the desert, He knew they’d want to go back to Egypt, He knew they’d doubt Him at every turn, there’d be rebellion and they’d stop listening to Him. He knew all that. So why didn’t He wait? Why didn’t He wait before He signed the little book, before He made the covenant? Why did He sign it at the beginning?

Because God loves us, unconditionally.

That’s His freedom.

I have been on a long and strange journey to become a priest, God willing. When I first started wondering if Jesus was calling me, I had a lot going on in my mind. So I decided I should go to a priest and talk about it.

But I didn’t just go, I went with my defenses. I had ammunition. I had a career, I was starting my own company. I had a condo, I had friends, I had a serious girlfriend, I had money. I had a life. So I was ready to go to the priest and to God with all these weapons, and tell him all the reasons why I really shouldn’t be a priest, and then I expected the priest would say, “Oh, you’re right, Jerome, you have all that stuff going on, put those thoughts of the priesthood away and just go forward with your life.” It was all set up!

Well anyway, I went to the priest and he said to me, “Jerome, listen well to your heart. It’s already there, inside.”

When we are baptized as little babies, it is God’s first encounter with us. What is the first thing that God does? That’s right. He puts His signature on our hearts. He doesn’t follow us from above all our life with His pen in His hand, judging us whether we are worthy to get the signature. He doesn’t wait to see our behavior. He puts His signature down right at the beginning.

He sets us free.

Because He loves us, unconditionally.

For freedom Christ set us free. (Gal 5:1)

One thought on “Unconditionally

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