Why does God say that he will forgive the people of Israel their iniquity because they have reached the peak of their sinfulness? The ancient Fathers… teach that these words can be understood … as if God were saying: “When they have reached their greatest affliction and when they feel intensely the burden of their iniquity in enslavement and servitude, after punishing them for their evil ways…, I looked at them and I felt compassion for them. When they had reached the worst of their days, I was satisfied with what they had suffered. And that is why now their iniquity will be forgiven… When they had reached the height of their … ingratitude, when they seemed no longer to remember anything at all of God and his kindness, then their iniquity will be forgiven.”… When God in his providence desired to show humankind his goodness, it was admirable, for in doing so, he didn’t want to be motivated by anything. Without being prompted by anything other than his goodness, he communicated himself to them in a truly marvelous way.
St. Francis de Sales
This is a genuinely beautiful way of understanding things. It says not, as I have often assumed, that Israel, and by extension us, had suffered the utmost for her sins but that she had continued sinning! The suffering was the result of not past sin, but continual sin. It was in the fullness of sin that God redeemed. It was not a matter of waiting for appeasement, till the screams outweighed his peevishness. But just a divine act of love. When their sin had reached a maximum, then salvation comes.
When your soul is overcome by some temptation, it is not the temptation that turns you into chaff. No, you were chaff already, that is to say fickle and faithless; the temptation simply discloses the stuff you are made of… “Do you think I had any other purpose in making you,” said the Lord to Job, than to reveal your virtue?” (Jb 40:3 LXX) In another text he declares: “I humbled you and made you feel the pangs of hunger in order to find out what was in your heart” (Dt 8:3-5).
In the same way, a storm will not allow a house to stand firm if it is built upon sand. If you wish to build a house, you must build it upon rock. Then any storms that arise will not demolish your handiwork; whereas the house built upon sand will totter, proving thereby that it is not well founded. So while all is yet quiet, before the storm gathers, before the squalls begin to bluster or the waves to swell, let us concentrate all our efforts on the foundations of our building and construct our house with the many strong, interlocking bricks of God’s commandments. Then when cruel persecution is unleashed like some fearful tornado against Christians, we shall be able to show that our house is built upon Christ Jesus our rock (1Cor 3:11).
[W]hy was Jesus the supreme authority? Because Jesus displayed “exactly the same liberty to love indiscriminately as does God himself.” And God himself ratified Jesus’s claim to be the embodiment of that indiscriminate, boundless love by raising Jesus from the dead, which “made him both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).