Mercy

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, I want very much to share with you an excerpt from an ancient homily from the Holy Saturday Office of Readings. Each year, I weave this homily into the core of my Holy Week prayer, but this year it gave me even greater comfort than usual. I know—why share this with you a week later? I believe that now, more than ever, this illustrates the boundless and unconditional magnitude of God’s Mercy.

“For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

“I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God.

“The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

These unusual and anxious days, it can be hard to both give and receive mercy. We want to blame someone—anyone—for our struggles. We feel the pressure to “do more,” with this enforced time at home. If I believed all of the social media “wisdom,” my closets would be organized, my house would be cleaner, I would be eating healthier (and, therefore losing weight), exercising more, and tripling my time in prayer. The anxiety already created or exacerbated by the very virus causing so many drastic alterations of daily life and the fear that accompanies the unknown, can be crushing when the expectations threaten to overwhelm.  The reality is that we’re all facing so many stressful repercussions already, that for many, just getting through the day feels like an uphill battle. We’re furloughed and worried about mortgages or rent, or we’re suddenly trying to work from home or adapting to brand new demands in the workplace, and, perhaps, our work has become dangerous and scary. We’ve become teachers to our children, cut off from our elderly or sick relatives, unable to buoy ourselves with the relationships and rewards of time spent with good friends. We are unable, for the first time in our lifetime, to seek and find comfort and encouragement in our worship and regular reception of the Eucharist.   Nothing is the same. I’ll say it again. Nothing is the same.

So, yes, I think this homily, with its message of limitless and unquestioning total love and mercy, and the message of Divine Mercy Sunday is more important than ever. Not only do we desperately need to be reminded of God’s Mercy, but we must prioritize granting mercy to ourselves and to others. I haven’t organized a single closet. My home is the same lived-in, loved-in nest of chaos it has always been.  My bread is not homemade, I eat far more potato chips than is good for me, I haven’t worked out in weeks, and I have no plans to put together any impressive Pinterest crafts with my kids. I am working on mercy these days. Allowing myself to accept His Mercy, and giving a little to myself, too.

God bless you. You are missed, and I look forward to the day when we gather together again at St. Peter’s. 

Lisa Amos
Director of Mission and Ministry

One Response to “Mercy”

  1. Elizabeth Burke says:

    Hi Lisa,
    This message of mercy is so needed right now. And such a great counter-balance/cancelling out of the social media messages (the new conventional wisdom?) of cleaning out closets, etc. I didn’t realize those messages were affecting me with tinges of guilt for also doing none of those suggested tasks, until I read your post. As though keeping busy is the answer. Instead, I have been reading up on our Catholic Faith (remedial for me now), following EWTN and other spiritual teachers online and soaking it all up. It has made for a great cleansing of my soul and much needed learning of my Faith. I am also praying a 54-day rosary novena and all of these “activities” are helping me so much more than cleaning or crafting would (not that they are bad, but only go so far). Especially in these times that we’ve not experienced before. I’ve also been listening to Father Steven’s messages online, and of course, streaming Mass. It will be nice when we can be together again in person. God bless you and our Church Family in the meantime.

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