> Genesis 18:16-33
Note to reader: Don't forget to check out the new homily series called "Follow Me." You can listen to the homilies online. Look to the right and click on the link "Follow Me Homily Series."
The readings at today's Mass draw us into the mercy of God. Abraham's historic pleading with God on behalf of Sodom, as well as the depth of today's Responsorial Psalm, are good news for us at the beginning of the week.
Pope Benedict XVI expounds upon the mercy of the Father as he writes, "We have seen that God’s Eros for man is also totally agape. This is not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives. Hosea above all shows us that this agape dimension of God’s love for man goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity. Israel has committed 'adultery' and has broken the covenant; God should judge and repudiate her. It is precisely at this point that God is revealed to be God and not man, 'How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! ... My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst' (Hosea 11:8-9). God’s passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love." (1)
The Father’s mercy is the medicine that embraces the confusion of Saint Paul, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate ... For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want." (2)
Believe it or not, one of the tougher challenges in the spiritual life it to admit our resistance to the Father’s tireless mercy while at the same time yearning to receive the depth of God's love. Most of us hide from God when we are ashamed. However, God is love and the Father is rich in mercy. "In truth God wants to call to [us] from within [our] own sinfulness, from [our] own hiding from love, so that He can minister to the needs of [us] from within. It is [our] darkness within that cries to God, invites God, summons God to be who He is for [us]: compassion. 'Far from diminishing God's yearning for us, our brokenness unleashes in [us] deeper wellsprings of tenderness and mercy.'" (3)
We have to choose to receive His mercy.
"With ever more accurate darts of love the Holy Spirit opens our consciences before God so that deeper and more effective healing can occur; at times his coming is so pure that it causes us to have pain and recoil at the level of intimacy God wishes his Son to achieve in our being. … Something greater than the mantras of self-help gibberish and post-modern syncretism is demanded if spiritual healing is to occur. An encounter must occur. We must be seized with the presence. In this presence, perhaps dramatic at first, perhaps not, we appropriate meaning, love, and healing at ever expanding levels of integration throughout our life." (4)
"The healing of sinful affections may happen at such deep levels as to escape our capacity to articulate our real needs. God answers our groans, our sufferings, with the silent coming of the Holy Spirit ... instilling within the reality of Christ living his mysteries over again in our lives. Our groans, our pain, our need for healing is met by the silent power of love itself taking up residence within us. Our free 'yes' meets the free gift of the mystery of Christ’s Passover, reaching 'depths not touched by the wounds death has inflicted on us'; thus in holy communion we are healed in peace, not with emotional upheaval or storm ... but as quietly as the epiclesis (the renewing Spirit) itself." (5)
"It is this divine self-giving and the positive human response to accept such love that healing is known. Trust, vulnerability, rapt listening, integrity all precede the fullness of healing; otherwise God could incorrectly be seen as entering a magic relationship and not one of human freedom and fullness. We must present ourselves in such a way that Christ can enter our hearts with truth. And such a way of presenting ourselves is encapsulated in the virtue of humility." (6)
Rejoice and be glad, for the Father who is tirelessly calling you is rich in mercy.
(2) Romans 7:15-19
© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013
Today @ IPF:
The 169 seminarians in the Seminarians Summer Program are in the home stretch with their morning class, "Celibacy and Sexuality." Today the men will learn more about the process of natural family planning.
The 22 priests and seminarians here for the Spiritual Exercises are on day 3 of the 30-day retreat.
Today's Quote from Pope Benedict XVI:
"Only by experiencing forgiveness, recognizing ourselves as loved with a free love, greater than our misery, but also of our justice, will we finally enter into a truly filial and free relationship with God."
― Angelus Address, March 14, 2010