In Saturday’s readings and in today’s readings, we learn of God’s great mercy for his people – in accounts from the Old and New Testaments. I looked up the word “mercy” on my Mac computer dictionary. Mercy is defined as “benevolence, forgiveness and kindness in a variety of ethical, religious, social and legal contexts.” Our God is all justice, but thankfully, He is all mercy as well. His love for us is unconditional and in our human minds – perhaps – we cannot truly comprehend that. He is always willing to take us back when we have turned our backs on Him – all that is required is the slightest turn in His direction.
In the early 1900’s, Jesus appeared to a Polish nun, St. Faustina. He asked her to have an image of Him commissioned with the words, “Jesus, I trust in You,” printed at the bottom. He asked her to perpetuate devotion to His Divine Mercy. He told Faustina that no sin is too great to be forgiven. All one needs is a repentant heart. We are so blessed to have a Father who loves us this much!
“Encourage souls to place great trust in My fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the immeasurable depths of My mercy.”
( Message to Saint Faustina from Jesus)
I could really relate to the gospel today, because I am a gardener (and I have a fig tree that did not produce last year!) Still, I have not given up on it. In fact, I moved the month before last to a new home with a new yard. I took two clippings from that fig tree in my old back yard, rooted them and planted them in my new yard. I have fertilized and have protected them from frost. The first tiny leaves have begun to unfurl, and already I have dreams for the tiny “treelings” – dreams of BIG fruit production – of them growing lots of branches to attract birds. God, the master gardener, does the same with us. He fertilizes us, de-weeds us, tends to us, and hopes that we (in turn) bear great fruit. He gives us soooooo many chances. One day, though, just like in the gospel parable, our chances will run out. This is called death.
I watched a video of a woman who died on an operating table in the 1970’s. While she was dead, she saw the Lord. She said she also saw her life “flash” before her eyes. She could not only see but feel Jesus’ emotion when she did things in her life that made him joyful. She could also see and feel Jesus’ hurt – when she did things that disappointed Him. He asked her two questions, “Do you love Me,” and “Are you sorry?” In her experience, even at the moment of death, Christ was there giving her another chance to accept His mercy and His love. This is an example of private revelation, however. I hope that what she says is true…but I wouldn’t live life counting on the hope that we will get that chance after death. Don’t wait!!
Christ showed the depth of His love for us when He died a horrendously painful and humiliating death on the cross. All He asks is that we love Him in return – REALLY love Him. He loves us so much, however, that He will never force us to love Him – that’s not love at all. His love is freeing!
So doesn’t one good turn deserve another? If God shows us such incredible mercy, shouldn’t we “Pay it Forward?” so to speak. Do you remember the works of mercy from your Catechism studies as a child? See if you can fill in the blanks. (Answers tomorrow!) I’m challenging my family to do one of each type together this week. Won’t you join us?
Corporal Works of Mercy:
To f________ the h__________.
To give __________ to the th__________.
To c__________ the n____________.
To shelter the ______________.
To visit the i_________________.
To visit the s________.
To ______________ the dead.
Spiritual works of mercy:
To ____________ the ignorant.
To counsel the ________________.
To _____________ sinners.
To bear wrongs ______________.
To _______________ offenses willingly.
To comfort the ______________.
To pray for the _________________.