The Tenderness of Mercy
Jesus’ narration of the story of “a man with two sons,” which we know as the story of the Prodigal Son, never loses its power to move us deeply, no matter how often it is repeated.
Hosea 6:1-6; Luke 18:9-14
Today’s readings talk about asking for forgiveness and mercy, and of redemption. David begs for forgiveness; Hosea discusses incredible generosity and grace for forgiveness; the Gospel refers to sin and cleansing. We have the theme here of repentance and knowledge, and of grace given.
Hosea 14:2-10; Mark 12:28-34
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
With all your soul,
With all your mind,
And with all your strength.”
In my busy multi-tasking life, how frequently do I do the above?
Do I let other worldly concerns prioritize my energy?
Jeremiah 7:23-28; Luke 11:14-23
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. Jer7
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Ps. 95
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. Lk 11
It is about the midpoint of Lent. We are half way through the time we have to take advantage of this great season of grace. It seems appropriate to reflect upon this gospel today.
Jesus is again in an encounter of liberation. Jesus frees something from within this man and he is able to speak. The people are amazed. But some of the people cry "foul." They throw up arguments, deflecting accusations. They caricature Jesus, and so create doubts and divisions.
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9; Matthew 5:17-19
"However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but teach them to your children and to your children's children."
What is Moses saying here (through the words of the Deuteronomist)? What have we seen? What are we to remember? What are we to teach to our children's children? We are to recall how this great God came down to bring our forebears out of slavery in Egypt. We are to recall the God who "made us his own" when we were nobodies. We are to recall God's victory over the slave masters who went down to defeat. God has won the day! God will win the day! We will remember that day at the Easter Vigil this year.
Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Psalms 25:4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9
Mercy, to me, is the juxtaposition of today’s readings. This is particularly true in the Gospel when Christ tells us exactly how often we should forgive: “number beyond counting.” He continues with the story of the unforgiving servant as a contrast. The result was the servant, who showed no mercy, was handed over to torturers. In Azariah we are taught to rely on God’s mercy and we will not be put to shame or abandoned.
Isaiah 7:10-14; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38
Lent is a great season of grace; a great season of faith. Today’s readings, on this Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, speak to us of grace and of faith. Mary was graced by God’s spirit and as such participated in the life of God. Grace for each of us is “favor,” the free and underserved help that God gives to us as we respond to God’s call to become children of God and partakers of eternal life. Grace hovers throughout this reflection, as grace hovers throughout your life experiences.
Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12
UNLESS YOU REPENT, YOU WILL ALL PERISH JUST AS THEY DID!
So, are you feeling a little uncomfortable when you hear today’s gospel? I sure am! I prefer “Comforter Jesus, “Peace Jesus,” “Good Shepherd Jesus,” “Jesus loves me Jesus.” UNLESS YOU REPENT, YOU WILL ALL PERISH JUST AS THEY DID! is not the Jesus I like to think about. Jesus is making us uncomfortable.
From 14 February to 12 March 2019, Vicar General Sr. Josephine D´Sousa SAC, accompanied by me, Sr. Maria Landsberger, held an official Visitation to our communities in the cities of Codó and Timbiras in Maranhão, one of the poor States in the Brazilian Northeast. This mission of German province began in 1980; presently there are 6 Sisters and two novices, all Brazilians.
Micah 7:14-15, 18-20; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, And will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt? You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins…
Each of the characters in the gospel story look at life so differently, don’t they? The younger son wants something, something he’s not getting at home. So, his desires drive him into the big world to a life of dissipation. Somehow he figured that he could buy friendship and meaning and contentment by “squandering his inheritance.” His experience of emptiness drove him to “look for love in all the wrong places,” costing him his life.