I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord
It’s been almost a year since Pope Francis opened the Holy Doors and the Year of Mercy began. It will end on the Feast of Christ the King, November 20, 2016. Which is this Sunday. But just for a moment I want to stop and bask in the Mercy of the Lord one last time. As Catholics, we have all heard about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy all year. But before we can carry out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and have them truly be works of mercy and not just charitable acts, we need to have had a personal encounter with the Mercy of God ourselves. We cannot give to others what we have not received ourselves. And the degree to which we are agents of God’s mercy to others is directly equal to the degree we allow God to be merciful to us.
One of my favorite parables is the Parable of the Lost Sheep. In that parable, Jesus talks about the lamb who has wandered away. How the sheep came to get out of the sheep fold, he doesn’t say. Whatever the reason, the lamb wandered off and now he’s lost. He is out in the wilderness. It’s easy to picture this poor little lamb in some ravine tangled in some bushes. She is wounded and bleeding, alone and scared. She is crying pitifully for her Shepherd to come and find her.
When the shepherd is counting his sheep, he discovers he only has 99 sheep. He should have 100. He secures the sheep pen and leaves the 99 and goes in search of the lost little lamb. He calls and calls his poor little lamb. It gets dark. He lights a torch and keeps looking. Finally, he hears his lamb. Holding his torch over the edge of the ravine he sees her. He takes his shepherd’s crook and lowers it down and gently lifts the little lamb up. When daylight comes, the Good Shepherd puts the lamb on his shoulders and carries him home. Once home, he feed her and gives her drink. He pours ointment on her wounds so that she will be healed.
This is what our God does for each one of us. He knows that because of Original Sin we are all just like that wounded little lamb. He knows the wounds we carry are caused by the sins we commit. He knows the wounds we carry that are caused by the sins others commit against us. And some of our wounds are simply caused by the stuff of life. People get sick. They die. Families split up. Life happens to all of us. But our Good Shepherd came to bring the Divine Mercy of God to us all. In The Face of Mercy by Pope Francis, the Holy Father reminds us all that Jesus is the Face of Divine Mercy because he is the Face of the Father. Jesus even said so in John 14:8-9: Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?” Jesus is the incarnation of the love and mercy of God. It is in the light of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection that Pope St. John Paul II can remind us all that there is no evil that is greater than God’s Divine Mercy. There is no wound, no matter what the cause, that God is unable to heal, however there is one limit that can be placed on the Divine Mercy of God. That is the limit we place on it ourselves.
God’s Infinite Merciful Love can only be poured out into the wounds caused by the sins we have committed if we confess those sins and allow his mercy to heal them. God’s Infinite Merciful Love can only be poured out into the wounds caused by the words and actions of others if we present those areas to him for healing. God’s Infinite Merciful Love can only heal the wounds caused by the things of life if we open our hearts and souls to him and allow him to heal us. This is simple to do. But not easy to do. It is simple in that all we need to do to have the wounds caused by our sins healed is to swallow our pride and go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. All we need to do to have the wounds caused by the sins of others healed is be willing to be willing to let go of our anger and bitterness, resentment and hatred for the things “they” did to us and allow God to heal our hearts. All we need to do to have the wound caused by the stuff of life healed is to realize the God is God, and we are not. We don’t have any idea of the how those events fit into the eternity. God knows all human history from before the world was created. We see here and now. He is God. I am not. Like I said, it’s simple. As simple as the prayer, “Lord, heal what needs to be healed.” But it’s not easy. But then, neither was the Cross. But after every crucifixion, there always comes a resurrection. God’s Infinite Merciful Love demands it.