Mercy That We Find Hard to Understand

by | Sep 10, 2019 | Formation, Reflections

Jesus Christ is the incarnation and personification of divine mercy (DM 2). Dwelling among us, he hopes that God’s mercy will rub on us human beings.

Sinners draw near to listen to Jesus. He welcomes them, and he even eats with them, which bothers the Pharisees and scribes. Mercy is not their strength, though it is one of the weightier things (Mt 23, 23). They see sinners as lost causes.

But Jesus does not give up on anybody. He holds out hope even for those who complain against him. So, he addresses to them three parables about mercy.

The Teacher asks a rhetorical question in both the first and second parable. He suggests that those who serve God, without disobeying any of his orders, can come to understand mercy. They only have to imagine themselves the owners of the missing sheep or coin. Surely, owners spare no effort to find what they have lost.

And those who find bothersome Jesus’ behavior will understand even more if they put themselves in the shoes of the very good father. He welcomes the wayward son without chiding him. He tenderly takes him back as a son, not as a hired worker. And he holds a feast because the dead has come to life again, the lost is found.

Undoubtedly, God owns the world and all its peoples. He is also a providing father (Ps 24). That is why he brings forth bread from the earth, so that his children may have their fill, and wine to cheer their hearts (Ps 104). And because he sees that all he has made is good, he makes sure that they stay so.

Rightly, then, does the sinner’s death not please him (Ez 18, 23; 33, 11). He keeps relenting in his threats of punishment and treating sinners mercifully.

And such great mercy is due to his being God, not man (Hos 11, 9). So then, mercy is God’s essential trait (SV.EN XI:328).

Lord Jesus, make God’s mercy rub on us, the mercy we can see and touch in you and through you, through your deeds and words (DM 2). And, finally, through your death on the cross and your resurrection. Seat us sinners at your table, repentant, and at peace, through you, with the Father and with one another.

15 September 2019
24th Sunday in O.T. (C)
Ex 32, 7-11. 13-14; 1 Tim 1, 12-17; Lk 15, 1-32


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