It is not without significance that Divine Mercy Sunday Follows Easter. For Mercy is the fruit of Easter.
And Jesus came not to call the righteous but Sinners into his kingdom (Luke 5:32). He came “to seek and to save that which was lost”. Mercy is the revelation of the very heart of God and the Good News itself. We received mercy ourselves; and so we must share it with others.
And we cannot forget this, especially when we must critique the thinking, wrong directions and praxis of our times.
When a woman of bad reputation, probably Mary of Magdala scholars say, “fell on the feet of Jesus” amidst the Pharisees at a banquet, and washed and wiped our Lord’s feet with her very tears, clearly it was Mercy she had obtained, mercy that emanated from his Essence, his teachings, and from his divine Presence there before her.
Instead of rebuking her as the Pharisees thought she deserved, Jesus, peering into their souls asked why they had not reached such depths of repentance themselves. According to Our Lord it is those who are forgiven much who love much (Lk.7:47).
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem
And then as the days of His passion drew near, Jesus of Nazareth, foreseeing the fall of the great City, wept over Jerusalem. It was Mercy itself weeping.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often have I desired to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing (Lk. 13:34).
“…as a hen gathers her brood”… Could there be a more tender image of God’s love for us?
And this was a compassion expressed in the face of impending judgement which in Hebrew is said to be the same word used for atonement (“kippur”.) For is not the Cross both?
Even in judgment, the inevitable consequence of our own moral choices in a created universe, Jesus weeps and likens Himself to a mother hen who would gather her brood to safety. Here was a Heart that desired to Love and to be loved. A Personal Heart that desired to save.
The Widows Child
Earlier, as He approached a town called Naim and beheld a funeral procession, the funeral of a child, Jesus beheld the bereaved widow whose only child was now gone. “And his heart went out to her” (Luke 7:13). What words to contemplate forever!
“And he said, Do not cry.”
Jesus was overwhelmed with compassion. His Heart ached with compassion for her. His raising of her son was a “sign” of that compassion, a sign that death is not an inexplicable “natural” occurrence but an intrusion into God’s creation, a consequence of The Fall, of Original Sin. Jesus knew the tragedy of death and ached to the depths to see its effects on those who know love. In this miracle-sign we see a foreshadowing of “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” and whose resurrection is the surety for each and every one who will “receive Him” (Jn 1:12; 29; Rom.6:23), that death will have no final victory over us” (1 Cor.15:55).
Martha and Lazarus
And when Our Lord was mournfully reproached by Martha for having been absent and thus unable to save her brother, Lazarus, who had died four days before, the Scripture says, “…at the site of her tears, and those of the Jews who followed her, Jesus said in great distress with a sigh that came the depths, ‘Where have you put him?’ They said, Lord, come and see…”
Then we are told, “And Jesus wept”
The revelation of God in Jesus Christ is the revelation of the Sacred Heart of the Universe, a heart which weeps over the distress, perplexities, and even over the judgments of humankind” (Rom. 6:23).
How we must weep for modern men and women.
We are brothers and sisters in Adam, by virtue of Creation, even before we are family in Christ by virtue of the redemption. This is how the Saints could see Christ in all the poor and spiritually wounded, in the stranger in need, whomsoever they may be; see Him in all rebellious or merely weak sinners, especially the poor in spirit who, like all of us, are in need of the continuous healing of the divine Physician.
The Church of Jesus Christ can never be a club for the self-satisfied and properous self-righteous. For we can never say we became Christians by our own lights of intellect or will, but by His Light alone.
“I am the Light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12)
“It is necessary for me to work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the Night is coming when no one is able to work. As long as I am in the world I am the Light of the world.” (Jn. 9:3-5). It was God in Christ who came to us! How can we ever be the same again?
The Apostle John said, “Love is not to be just words or mere talk but something real and active” (1 Jn. 3:18). We are to love others “because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19), and in this way we “walk even as He walked”.
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother remains in darkness.” (1Jn. 2:9) and it was “to undo all that the devil had done that the Son of God appeared.” (1 Jn 3:8).
It is the spirit of evil, according to St. John, to reduce the Faith to self-righteous arrogance or smugness, or to mere legalisms, which are the way of the world.
“If you think you are standing firm, beware lest you fall”— (1 Cor. 10:12)
The Apostle of Christ’s love knew, like St. Paul, that orthodoxy without love is spiritual self-deception (1 John 4:7-12; 1 Cor. 13f). Our Lord taught us that whomever we find in need on our path is our neighbor whom we are bound to love with Christ’s love and to help, both physically and spiritually, in Word and deed (Lk. 10:25-37; Gal. 6:10).
Towards the Abyss
Our era is one of great confusions wrought by great rebellions. There is rebellion against the Moral Law, against the Natural Law, against true authority. Even very many in the home and Church have succumbed to the temptations which so often end in the desire to anesthetize oneself against the consequences of a refusal to follow and remain with Christ. Thus “the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” become an ensnaring refuge against the pangs of conscience (1 Jn. 2:15) which can only end in more pain.
“Spirituality” in this “Woke” time is morphed in ways hardly imagined before. It is reduced to “stillness,” “centering,” and is made to seem like something liberating, especially (but not only) tempting for young people ungrounded in the teachings of Christ. The truth is that this is often a flight from God’s Commandments, Commandments given by our Creator for our real freedom and protection.
Meanwhile a phenomenally sophisticated global technology increasingly makes streaming images to replace the word in education and “entertainment” so that both the very young and the old find themselves tempted especially by pornographic streaming images, even as so-called sociologists and other “experts” assure one and all that it does no harm but is rather an immense philosophical good, since “freedom” it is said, is the highest value, (in tragic opposition to John 8:32).
On the Internet one image merges with or neutralizes the content of the next until all images devolve into a kaleidoscopic vortex which suck almost everyone in (even teachers, priests and ministers) so that it is increasingly difficult for all to differentiate one’s own synthesized critical thought and true self from the newly emerging “values” programmed into us by news kinds of new teachers and technological algorthims.
Meanwhile millions, possibly billions, of people worldwide are desensitized to sin and “old fashioned notions” like right and wrong and traditional concepts of good and evil (Isa. 5:20) and so fall by the wayside into spiritual ruin.
Outside on the streets, more and more of the remaining young people—especially the poor— do whatever drugs they will to anesthetize the chaos within — from legalized marijuana provided by cynical, tax-hungry state governments, to whatever opioids others can find.
Even the aforementioned increasing numbers of priests and ministers of the Gospel in their private quarters, first leaving off prayer and contemplation, begin resorting to long, lonely nights surfing the Internet until, often enough, trouble looms. Aware of the vacuum within, they begin to pity themselves, until pity becomes anger at the Church and anger morphs into rage and more sensuality. Sometimes it ends in total cynicism and outright unbelief. Sometimes they demand to “reimagine the Church” in their own broken image and impose it on others.
Old people, too, know when they have been cast aside as burdens in an age of costly healthcare, wether public or private. The sick, too, at any age. They feel a subtle even if unspoken pressure to do away with themselves. And the poor —who include those whose lives have been busted up by broken relationships, bad luck, mental illness addictions and endless confusions, they know when they feel more of a burden than anything else. Thus depression threatens and eventually sinks many even further into despair.
As Jesus Wept Over Jerusalem…
We must mourn for the men, women and children of our time, as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. For people, though made in the image and likeness of God Himself, are losing, or have already lost, this awareness, along with the notion of right and wrong, good and evil. They know less and less why they were born, what Meaning they should strive for in their lives, and what will become of them after this life.
Little by little confusion has become almost total in terms of values, as the media, Marshall McLuhan said, has “become the message”.
“Whatsoever a man sows that also shall he reap” (St. Paul, Gal. 6:7)
The Divine Pity
It is precisely because we as Christians know God and His mercy that we must not judge, but tenderly share the Good News with those who have fallen into such confusions. We must help others to begin again, pick up the pieces. Over and over if necessary, just as God has don’t for us.
We must with great sensitivity help people to see that violations of the moral and natural laws in principle must have dire consequences.
We must go back to the basics, “rethink our way back to thought” (Chesterton), teaching again that even if one does not “believe in” the moral law one must pay homage to it despite oneself when, say, one’s wallet or reputation is stolen, just as surely as gravity must have its way when a person takes but one misstep off of the roof.
Mercy, patience, understanding…we must, wherever the opportunity presents itself, reflect in our own lives this Heart of the universe, “walking as Jesus walked” and weep for those who shut their hearts. This is one of the ways we continue the healing mission of Jesus.(1 Jn. 2:6; Luke 9:23). Jesus healed so many when he was on this earth. We too must seek to heal the wounded, though Him, with Him and in Him.
The birds of rebellion circle all around the Church today in both so-called Progressivism and in so-called Traditionalism. It would appear to be crucifixion time for the Church again as many divide up His garments for popularity and podcast profits. But this sorrowful fact is part of the Gospel too. And we follow the Cross to the end. His promise to be with us, His Church, “always” is where we place all of our Hope, as we ask mercy for our sins, our weaknesses and contradictions…
Secular humanism has failed us. It has given way only to the Will to Power.
We must “pipe” for all in the public square and in our own neighborhoods as Jesus taught in His parable, even for those who might refuse to dance (Luke 7:29-35). Because that is what love does. — SH
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