Mercy is the fruit of brokenness in our lives. Fruit comes out of broken ground. Jesus’ body was completely broken on the Cross and when his heart was pierced there sprung the fountain of divine mercy. Mercy is the fruit of emptying oneself. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it dies then it yields a mighty harvest (Jn. 12:24). In our life too we need to acknowledge our brokenness, weakness, vulnerability and nothingness before God. This awareness creates in our heart a desire to die to oneself and opens our inner eye to see the brokenness of others. Mercy is a free gift from God. Jesus said: ‘Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36).
In the Beatitudes Jesus says ‘Blessed are those who are merciful, they will receive mercy’ (Matthew 5:7). To receive the gift of mercy requires surrendering of our brokenness to God. This gift will help us to accept others as they are, without judgement. In this way, we become instruments of God’s compassion and mercy.
So, let us place our weaknesses, struggles and vulnerabilities under the blessing of God’s mercy, who tells us: ‘you are very good’ (Genesis 1:31) and ‘you are my beloved son/daughter. On you my favour rests’ (Mark 3:17), and let us say with the psalmist ‘I thank you for the wonder of my being’ (Psalm 139). Then our brokenness becomes a blessing for us and for others. We are blessings to each other when we remember that God’s favour rests on each one of us.
‘BEAR FRUIT WORTHY OF REPENTANCE!’ (Matthew 3:8)
Today we are celebrating the feast of Saint John the Baptist. So today we can spend a little time to meditate on God’s mercy through the words of the Baptist. Always and especially in this year we are continually listening the proclamation of the mercy of God. In the Bible we can see that after the proclamation of Saint John the Baptist thousands of people confessed their sins and converted their life.
Now we may be confessing our sins and receiving God’s mercy in different ways. Is it enough? Is God expecting anything more from us? Can we do anything to please God or to express our gratitude? Let us listen to the words of Saint John the Baptist. He instructed all the people who received God’s mercy and converted their life, ‘BEAR FRUIT WORTHY OF REPENTANCE’ (Matthew 3:8).
How can we bear fruit? We are not able to feed all those who are hungry. We have human limitations. We are not able to do many things. Then what can we do? We can behave mercifully to all those who are weak. We can overcome our judgmental attitude to all people. We can give love to those who are sick and needy. We can spend our time to spread Word of God. Perhaps we can even dedicate our lives to it like Saint John the Baptist. Without any blaming, Jesus has accepted us. We have received enough mercy from God and freely, so Jesus says, ‘GO AND DO LIKEWISE’.
2 Kings: 24:8:17; Psalm 78 1.5 8.9; Matthew 7.21:29.
Jesus presents to us in the Gospel today that it is not those who say, ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven but ‘the person who does the will of God’.
Jesus is inviting us today to internalise the word of God and live it out in our lives. God wants us to worship him in spirit and truth not lip service. We make our whole life an expression of the Gospel by taking the word of God and making it our own. Doing the will of God is to share God’s love with a forgiving heart and be in solidarity with the less privileged. Everything we receive from God needs to be shared.
Equality is of the essence of love and comes from God. We are made by a God Who is the perfection of love in equality. No human-being can live without being cherished by someone. When we respect each other, the love we have for each other becomes real. Love is an experience, not an information.
The Church is called to practice mercy as the distinctive trait of all that she is and does. What we say and how we say it, our every word and gesture, ought to express God’s compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all: love by its nature, is communication: it leads to openness and sharing. If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity, by divine love, then our communication will be touched, by God’s power, with mercy.
Ezekiel 34:16 ‘I will search for the lost and bring back the strays’
Today’s Feast, commemorating the martyrdom of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, causes us to think of a time when kings had almost unlimited power and would let nothing and no one stand in the way of what they wanted.
The Gospel presents us with a different view of a king, a king who called himself the ‘Good Shepherd’, whom he spoke of as putting himself in danger and enduring hunger, cold, etc. to hunt for and bring back – without chastising them – his lost sheep, by whom he meant his subjects. Jesus was a King who cared about his subjects and their wellbeing, which he put before his own comfort.
With God in charge, we can rest secure – as the Psalmist said: ‘I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.’ (Psalm 3)
It is the responsibility of a king to show integrity, and of a human being to be true to the bond of friendship. Christ the King is the model of human integrity, and even goes so far as to call us his friends. Although we have sinned, gone astray, sought happiness elsewhere, God never stops seeking us, longing to show us His great mercy. Following His example, may we have the grace to extend mercy and friendship to our fellow men and women, as God has shown mercy to us.
Saint of the Day: Saint Aloysius
Readings: 2 Kings (19: 9-11, 14 – 21, 31- 36) Matthew (7: 6, 12- 41)
St Aloysius Gonzaga was born of a noble family, and when he discovered the mercies of God, he gave up everything and joined the Society of Jesus.
As we continue to reflect on MERCY with our Holy Father Pope Francis, we can read in the letter of Aloysius to his mother: ‘I will sing for ever the mercies of the Lord.’ It is only when I, like Aloysius, allow the mercy of God to reach me that I can show others mercy. Do I need to be more attentive in listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my life? It is the Spirit who assures us that God is our Father (Romans 8:15) and, as Saint Aloysius said, “it is better to be a child of God, than king of the whole world”. In the reading of today, we see King Hezekiah pleading for mercy from God. The King of Assyria has sent him a letter threatening to destroy him. Only because Hezekiah knows himself as a child of God, not as a king, does he take his problems to God, and God has mercy on him.
So let us listen to the Spirit today and, as Pope Francis has said, ‘Let us cast aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved’ (Pope Francis, Homily for the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy).
Saint Paul the Apostle: Pray for us.
Saint Aloysius: Pray for us.
Pope Francis embraces a child as he meets the disabled during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 13. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-AUDIENCE-MERCY Jan. 13, 2016.
‘God’s mercy is constant and limitless; he is faithful in his mercy for his children, even when they are unfaithful.’
(Pope Francis, weekly audience, Jan 13th 2016, http://www.catholicnews.com)
This Jubilee Year of Mercy is a wonderful time to reflect on how God is always faithful even when we are not. I can still remember when I ‘switched off’ God because I felt punished by God and worthless in my own eyes. Not long after my Mum died, I was relieved of a duty I had put twelve years of my life into and other trials followed. I couldn’t comprehend why all these were happening at once. I was very sad and alone in the midst of so many people. I couldn’t see myself going to Mass any longer. Nothing anyone could say made sense. It was only when I woke up in a hospital bed following a road accident that I began to feel how much God’s love abided with me. My anger had deprived me of noticing that God was with me in all my experiences. My feelings changed towards gratitude and forgiveness. It became clear to me that whatever happened, God was always very close. God is a good and loving Father who waits patiently for us to turn to him for warmth and solace. God’s loving mercy does not depend on how we feel – it abounds always. Therefore, seek him today, no matter what has happened in your life and you will surely find in God’s presence fullness of life.
Saint Alban, remembered on this day as a protomartyr of Britain, is an inspiring witness for all who hope for God’s mercy in their lives; a patron saint of converts, refugees and torture victims (Saint Alban Fellowship).
Our Lady ofWalsingham: pray for us.
St. Alban: pray for us.
Quality of mercy: Merchant of Venice, IV:1
Image from https://uk.pinterest.com
How much mercy is too much?
Galatians 5:13-18 …’the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself”.’
When I see my sisters and brothers suffering the effects of sin, I can love them as myself by imagining myself in their place. If I were in their position, how much mercy would I want to be given? That is very different from asking how much mercy I would expect.
In desiring mercy for myself, I can dream bigger than my expectations. How much is too much? What might the Good Thief tell us (Luke 23:39-43)? He expected his death sentence from human justice but he received from God’s mercy what he dared to hope for – a place with Jesus in the eternal Kingdom (Terms and conditions did not apply).
Is it possible that God, the source of all mercy, could be less merciful than any human sinner? The idea seems absurd. It follows, therefore, that however much mercy I can show to another person, God could not possibly show less to me. This is how I am assured that my own sins are forgiven by the Father to the extent that I forgive my neighbour (Matthew 6:12, 15). So, how much forgiveness should I show towards my neighbour? Well, it is a question of how much I really long to receive from God. It is only human justice that places limits on mercy. Where human law condemns and exacts punishment, the Law of God simply says, ‘”Love your neighbour as yourself”’.
(Hosea 14:2-10; Psalm 80:6, 8-11,14, 17 R/v9.11; Mark 12:28-34)
Today’s readings lead us to ask ourselves: what is it that takes most of my energy and time? Is it money, property, business? Do these things lead me to God or separate me from God?
If they do not lead me to God – then God says: “Come, let us talk this over. I am here for you.” As Jesus tells Martha in the gospel story, you occupy yourself with so many things but only one thing is important. We spend so much time running around doing things, which of course may be important, but the danger is that, in our pursuit of created things, we often forget the Creator, who gives them to us. All that I may acquire here on earth cannot give me the happiness and peace I so much long for.
Let us invite God into our lives and all will be well again. God knows exactly who we are and loves us as we are. He is extending his hands towards us and asking that we come back to him. It is not too late to begin anew. God’s patience does not expire. He promises to heal us of all our brokenness if we call upon him. So, what shall I say to God? Can I be humble enough to say: “take all iniquity away so that I may have happiness again and offer you my words of praise” (Hosea 14:3)
May God grant us grace to seek him sincerely especially during this period of Lent.
(Jeremiah 7:23-28, Psalm 94, Luke 11:14-23)
God is calling the Israelites a stubborn nation. A nation that he calls his own. A nation that he LOVES and gave away other nations so as to keep it. We can recall the wonders that He worked in the land of Egypt for the sake of the Israelites. God is telling them “Listen to my voice, then I will be your God and you shall be my people”. Think of how it feels when you are telling someone that you so much love to please listen to you. Instead, you are being wrongly accused, as they are accusing Christ in the gospel reading today, of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul.
What is that can make us turn our backs on God? Romans 8: 35 says: ‘Who shall separate us from the Love of God? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword, or hungry, or destitute, or danger, or when we are threatened with death?’
God is able to shoulder our problems with us and make our burden light if only we are able to listen to his words today. The Psalmist is telling us” O that you today, you would listen to his voice! “Harden not your hearts”. If we listen to his voice today, we will hear Him calling us in different ways, for He wants us to GATHER with Him and not to SCATTER.
May God give us the graces of inward listening so as to hear Him and respond to Him for He Loves us more than we can imagine. May our Lady, the first woman to hear the call of God and respond without looking back pray for us and work with us in this journey of life. Amen.
(Philippians 3:8-14; Ps 1, R/39:5; Matt 5:13-16)
We are pilgrims here on earth because we are passing through in order reach our final destination. Meeting God is our ultimate goal. So what I have done, what am I doing and what will I continue to do in order to meet God face to face at the end of my journey here on earth? I need to look deeply into my heart and ask myself: Will I be among those to whom Christ will say, “I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you made me welcome, naked and you clothed me, sick and in prison you came to visit me”?
Today is not too late to make a new start. You and I can begin today to seek out those around us who may be in need, to make a difference in their lives, no matter how small it may seem to be. It may not be an easy task in a society where people are suspicious of one another, where a good act could be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Should I then stop doing good because I maybe misjudged? Jesus says ‘NO’ because nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing him. Jesus himself was misjudged and finally was nailed to the cross. …But the cross was not the end of Jesus’ story. He was raised up by God on the third day and was crowned with eternal glory.
Pope Francis, in The Name of God is Mercy, quotes the words of St. John of the Cross:‘” In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”’ And we can be sure that all those who persevere to the end in charity will live with him in His glory forever.