Tag Archives: God’s Mercy

Good Friday; our words are approximations of eternity.

Before we begin… a few pointers to help you get the most from our celebration of Good Friday.

Firstly, it’s not just the person of Jesus that’s rejected, it is God’s truth! He is Truth in human flesh. It’s also Truth – absolute Truth – that’s rejected.

Secondly, I’d like you to notice in the opening lines of the Gospel that when they go to arrest Jesus they don’t know who they’re looking for. He’s not a big name in society!

Thirdly, I’d like you to notice that the State and the religious leaders do their best to get rid of Jesus, but in their best efforts to get rid of him they’re actually fulfilling God’s will! The wisdom of man is foolishness to God!

Image of Christ crucified 7But most of all I’d like you to notice that Jesus suffering is redemptive. If you redeem something you give something away to get something back. God gave his Son to get us back… “to ransom a slave you gave away your son!” (Easter Proclamation: Exsultet).

This is the Mercy of God. Mercy is the heart of God and it’s the heart of the Gospel. Mercy means that there is ultimate Justice! For only if Justice has been transgressed can anyone be merciful. To put it in legal terms; only if a ‘law’ has been broken can anyone be merciful. So if God is merciful then there is an absolute law, God’s law, by which we are all judged.

If we think of what it means to be merciful ourselves we know that to be merciful costs. It’s difficult. Perhaps some of us are so hurt that we cannot be merciful, and if we are to be merciful it will be like crucifixion. There you have it… there you have it in your own experience; the seeds of the eternal. Therefore if God is to be merciful, God must suffer. Only if we live in a meaningless universe can it be otherwise – only in a world where words are empty and meaningless, meaning only whatever we want them to mean at any given time. But unknown to ourselves our words are approximations of eternity.

Here’s a way to get inside God’s Mercy. He died without sin for you. He died without sin on your behalf. Therefore you will die without sin if you allow Jesus Christ to ‘wash’ you. If he died without sin for you, that means you’ve done it! Put it this way: If you owe a debt and can’t pay, what happens? Now supposing someone else pays the debt on your behalf, what happens? You’re free! Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world? How does he take them away? By taking them on himself.

Here’s an exercise for those who struggle with guilt and at the same time a lesson for those who think that there’s no sin at all – two extremes to be avoided, everything is a sin (broadly equates with the past) and nothing is a sin (broadly equates with the present): Focus on the figure of Christ crucified on the Cross… Now imagine him calling your name… “Paddy, Paul – whatever your name – I did not die on the Cross for you to bear the burden of your sin.”

When that comes as grace, you’ll cry!

 

 

It’s easy to understand Pope Francis emphasis on mercy.

 

Monday, Fifth Week of Lent.

John 8:11 The adulterous woman.

woman-caught-in-adulteryPonder the effect Jesus words and actions had on this woman “caught in the very act of committing adultery…”

She’ll love him, madly. She’ll be crazy about him and dare anybody say a bad word about him in her presence, she’ll defend him, fight for him, tell others about him, speak so positively about him that it’ll be infectious. She’ll give everything for him!

This is what makes a disciple, this concrete experience of the love but particularly the mercy of Jesus Christ.

Now, let’s consider the opposite: What would Jesus have effected in this woman if he’d joined in condemning her?

See the difference?

It’s easy to understand Pope Francis emphasis on mercy, isn’t it?

Twenty First Sunday (C): Jesus was tolerant only in so far as it served Mercy!

So what have we got this weekend?

Basically we’ve got two sides – on one side there was the religious people (the Jews) and on the other, atheists, agnostics and sinners all thrown in together. Broad strokes, of course.

Into that dualism arrived Jesus Christ – no less than God Himself!

He spends his short earthly life calling both sides (not just one side) to repentance. Very interesting.

We’d expect that he’d call sinners to repentance, to change. Or would we? Is there sin anymore?

On this point – the reality of sin – Jesus never waivers. He never denies the reality of sin. On the contrary His life is an argument for the reality of sin and for ultimate justice.

Jesus wasn’t so much tolerant as merciful. Tolerance suggests almost anything is acceptable, there are few laws, almost everything can be collapsed into tolerance, almost everything is grey, there’s no black and white, nothing is definite. In broad strokes it’s the world we live in.

But Jesus didn’t bring tolerance. He brought Mercy. He was tolerant only in so far as tolerance served Mercy. That’s a totally different reality. Mercy implies that there are definite laws, an objective order. Besides, mercy is painful. Think of a husband’s, wife’s, partner’s unfaithfulness. Now think (feel) forgiving that unfaithfulness. What do you get? A kind of crucifixion for God’s sake!

But tolerance is not so painful because it doesn’t matter, nothing matters, there are no absolute laws, there is no ultimate justice, whereas Jesus says it does matter, there is ultimate justice. There’s always a price to be paid. It matters that you are saved. Me too!

Now, as Jesus calls sinners to repentance (unbelievers to belief) the religious people start to object – they start to fight with Him, they actually start to resent God – thus the first move to be last, and the last move to be first.

How dare you they say, this is not fair!

A kind of religious / spiritual pride!

Can you see where the religious people are wrong?

They are religious but their religion is about them rather than God! It’s religion without the heart of God. It’s a religion that really doesn’t understand what’s at stake. A man (or woman) can be lost! That’s what gave rise to parables like the lost sheep, the prodigal son.