**Navarre Bible Commentary
First Reading - From: Wisdom 11:22-2:12
God, Almighty and Merciful
 Because the whole world before thee is like a speck that tips the scales, and like a drop of morning dew that falls upon the ground.  But thou art merciful to all, for thou canst do all things, and thou dost overlook men's sins, that they may repent,  For thou lovest all things that exist, and hast loathing for none of the things which thou hast made, for thou wouldst not have made anything if thou hadst hated it.  How would anything have endured if thou hadst not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by thee have been preserved?
 Thou sparest all things, for they are thine, 0 Lord who lovest the living.
 For thy immortal spirit is in all things.  Therefore thou dost correct little by little those who trespass, dost remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in thee, 0 Lord.
11:21-12:2. The lessons given here about God's steadfast love and mercy towards all created things are not anything new, of course (cf. Hos 6:4-6; Jon 3:1-4:11), but maybe they were never quite as forcefully put as here (especially vv. 23-26), and the style of sapiential argument spells out very well the universal range of God's mercy towards sinful man and the love that is at work in creation and in its conservation. St Thomas deals with this subject with his typical clarity: God would never have created something which he would then not love, for it derives from him and participates in his supreme goodness, even if only to a tiny degree: "God loves all living things. He does not love in the same way as we do, for our will does not make things good; human love is a movement of the will towards its object ...]; the love of God creates and fills all things with goodness" ("Summa Theologiae", 1, 20, 2).
Therefore, when God punishes man, as he sometimes does, his intention is always one of love and mercy. It is this divine purpose that 11:23-26 takes pleasure in showing to be all-encompassing: God is all-powerful; nothing, no one, can resist him; his mercy does not stem from any weakness on his part; it is the effect of love: he loves the living.
Origen used this passage to draw lessons about God's all-embracing love: "Because we are his children, the Lord encourages us to develop the same attitude, and teaches us to do good works for all mankind. For that is why he is called the 'savior of all people, especially of those who believe in him' (1 Tim 4:10), and his Christ the 'expiation of our sins, and the sins of the whole world' (1 Jn 2:2)" ("Contra Celsum", 4, 28).
St Gregory the Great, in his homilies to the people of Rome, exhorted them to appreciate God's unlimited love for sinners: "Here we read that he appeals to all those who are stained with sin, and cries out to all those who have abandoned him. Let us not spurn the hand of mercy that he holds out to us; let us not fail to see the great value of the love the Lord has for us. In his kindness he calls out to those who have lost their way, and he prepares a place for us, for when we return to his heart of mercy. Let each person consider the debt that weighs him down--and all the while God waits and never loses his patience with us. Let those who chose not to stay with him return to him; let those who failed to appreciate his love stand close by his side, so that they may be raised up" ("Homiliae in Evangelia", 33).
The passage also underlines God's loving providence towards all created beings. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church", 301 puts it as follows: "With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and bring them to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence."
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.