Can the Heart be Controlled?
There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
The pharaoh was “the beloved of the god Ra.” Since ancient times, the god Ra motivated his actions in favor of the king with the formula: “For the love I have for you.”
The God of Israel did not know this sweet and delicate feeling. In the oldest texts of the Bible only strong passions are attributed to him: he repents, disdains, mourns (Gen 6:6-7), and cultivates the fierce loyalty of the feudatory towards his vassal, but not love, for this one understands that—in prey of terror—Israel has begged Moses: “You yourself speak to us and we shall listen. But do not let God speak to us, lest we die” (Ex 20:19).
God looked at creation and “saw that it was good,” but he does not refer to his feeling of joy, instead his covenants with Noah and Abraham are referred to. However, one would search in vain the inscription “because he loved them,” as a motive of his choice, in the sacred text. The Lord hears the cry of his people oppressed in Egypt. He remembers his covenant, looks; he thinks of it (Ex 2:23-25), but even here there is no mention of love. Israel was reluctant to attribute to the Lord the word ‘aheb—to love—because of its erotic nuances.
It was Hosea who introduced the image of conjugal love and, after him, no expression of this love, even the most daring, was neglected. It served to express the feelings, emotions, and tenderness of God towards people. He disclosed his love for the patriarchs (Dt 4:37), Abraham was recognized as “his friend” (Is 41:8), he was given the visceral affection of a father (Ps 103:13) and the oath: “though the mountains may depart and the hills be moved, but never will my love depart from you” (Is 54:10).
Only after realizing this everlasting and free love, Israel felt the need to respond to it and understood that a God who loves so unconditionally, has the right to control even the heart and also to demand what seems humanly impossible, “If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, something to drink” (Pro25:21).