God Reaches Out In Mercy

God Reaches Out In Mercy

God Reaches Out In Mercy.

“The Great Russian writer Dostoyevsky tells the story of a woman who found herself in hell and she felt she did not belong there. She could not bear the suffering and cried out in agony for the mercy of God. God listened and was moved with pity. “If you can remember one good deed that you did in your lifetime, I will help you.” said God. Wracking her brain, she remembered that once she had given a starving neighbor an onion. God produced the onion complete with stem. The woman grabbed the onion, and God began to pull her up and out of hell. But others, damned (condemned) with her, began to grab hold of the woman’s skirts to be lifted out, too. The stem of the onion held and would have saved them all, but the woman began to kick and scream for them to let go. Thrashing about trying to dislodge her friends was too much for the onion and the stem snapped, plunging them all back into the depths of hell. So with us, holding on to our onion stems, our denarii of good works, we lash out jealously at those who have not done as much as we have for God” (cf. John Williams III).

The story above tells us how much we long to obtain mercy from God and how less we think about offering mercy to other people. The second Sunday of Easter is a day the Church sets aside to celebrate Divine Mercy. The Bible speaks extensively about the mercy of God and presents God as one who is merciful (Luke 3:36) and whose mercy endures forever. In the Old Testament, mercy is referred to as Hesed, which is “loving kindness.” 

In New Testament Greek, the word mercy is Eleos and in Latin it is called Misericordia. In fact, mercy is a central attribute of God. Theology itself is an attempt to understand God who is love and mercy. This explains why Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Jubilee Year Of Mercy from December 8 2015 to November 20 2016 to remind the world about the importance of mercy. In his message entitled Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy), Pope Francis reminds everyone “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s (God’s) mercy.” Indeed, it is through mercy that God accepts us despite our sinfulness and unworthiness. 

We can read more about Divine Mercy from the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska which is published as a book titled, Diary: Divine Mercy in my Soul and the encyclical written by Pope John Paul II in 1980 “Dives in Misericordia” (Rich in Mercy).

From creation, God has contended with the stubbornness of the human person. Jesus describes himself as the Shepherd and his followers as Sheep. Sheeps are generally and naturally stubborn and require a lot of patience from the shepherd. A sheep that is lost has to be found by the Shepherd and can hardly come back home by itself, unlike dogs that have better ‘GPS navigating system’ and can more easily find their way back home. 

Psalm 119:176 describes us as people who “have gone astray like a lost sheep…” Imagine the stubbornness of Thomas who insisted, “Until I see, I will not believe.” Thomas was standing for empirical and skeptic philosophers who would not believe anything that cannot be seen or touched and for so many people in the world today who hold the belief that “Seeing is believing.” 

Empiricists believe that it is through experience and evidence that we acquire knowledge. This is not always the case because the fact that you have never seen Lagos does not mean that Lagos does not exist or unless you see and touch a Lion you would never believe that Lions are real. Faith is the opposite of doubt as it is “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). 

The attitude of Thomas is not entirely negative since he came to believe after doubting. Afterwards, he was able to make an extraordinary confession of faith when he was convinced that it was Jesus standing before him with the holes of the nail in his hands. He declared: “My Lord and my God.” Jesus, the true shepherd was patient with Thomas and his attitude teaches us how to be patient with stubborn people. Jesus displayed an attitude of mercy and not that of condemnation towards Thomas.

During this season of Easter we continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. But how do you reconcile resurrection and the mercy of God? If resurrection is about coming back to life, then it is closely related to mercy because the mercy of God revives us. The mission of the Church is to proclaim the mercy of God. 

Jesus transmitted the power of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive others’ sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound” (John 20:22-23). By these words Jesus institutes the sacrament of reconciliation, giving ordained ministers the power to forgive sins and restore peace to troubled hearts in the name of Jesus, through the ministry of the Church. Peace is what we loose when we go far away from God and the same peace is what is regained when we return to him with a humble and contrite heart. During the sacrament of reconciliation (confession), the priest uses the following words for a repentant sinner: “Through the ministry of the Church, may the Lord grant you pardon and peace.”

We all have a special vocation to be missionaries and witnesses of the mercy of God. We ought to learn about what is called the meaning of the acronym ABC of Divine Mercy that is as follows:

A – Ask for His Mercy. 

God welcomes us whenever we come to him seeking for mercy and when we express a sincere repentance from sin. Jesus revealed to St. Faustina three ways of asking for mercy in addition to the sacrament of confession: the chaplet of mercy, the Novena (nine days prayers) and a special daily prayer that is said at 3 O’clock.

B – Be merciful
In the beatitudes Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7), and St. James the Apostle adds, but “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy” (Jas 2:13). The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that God forgives us according to how we forgive those who trespass against us (Luke 6:1214). More still, to be merciful, we need to learn and practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

C – Completely trust in Jesus.                      We need to believe and trust in God’s mercy. There are people who believe their sins are so plentiful and grievous and beyond the forgiveness of God. In his revelation to Saint Faustina Jesus says, “I have opened My Heart as a living fountain of mercy. Let all souls draw life from it. Let them approach this sea of mercy with trust” (1520). We can approach God’s throne of mercy using the words of the Psalmist in the famous Psalm 51

In the Book of Isaiah God speaks to his people saying, “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Fr. Gerald Musa

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: