September 13, 2013



All the readings together
1st Timothy 1:1-2,12-14
Psalm 16:1-2,5,7-8,11

This Sunday, September 15, we'll unveil the second installment in the new Sunday homily series: "Who is Jesus?" This Sunday we'll talk about mercy; however, what is mercy? 

"'God, who is rich in mercy' whom Jesus Christ has revealed to us as Father: it is His very Son who, in Himself, has manifested Him and made Him known to us. Memorable in this regard is the moment when Philip, one of the twelve Apostles, turned to Christ and said, 'Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied'; and Jesus replied, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me? He who has seen me has seen the Father.' These words were spoken during the farewell discourse at the end of the paschal supper, which was followed by the events of those holy days during which confirmation was to be given once and for all of the fact that ‘God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.'" (1) As the complete revelation of the Father, Jesus emphatically reminds Philip, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9). As we see Jesus, we see the Father. And, as we see the Father we see "God who is rich in mercy." "God’s passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love." (2)

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." (3) Ever feel like that? If we're honest, we come to admit our resistance to the Father’s tireless mercy while at the same time yearning for the very depth of love found in His mercy.

In "Christ and through Christ, God also becomes especially visible in His mercy ... Christ confers on the whole of the Old Testament tradition about God’s mercy a definitive meaning. Not only does He speak of it and explain it by the use of comparisons and parables, but above all He Himself makes it incarnate and personifies it. He Himself, in a certain sense, is mercy. To the person who sees it in Him—and finds it in Him—God becomes ‘visible’ in a particular way as the Father who is rich in mercy.' (3)  Pope John Paul II reminds us that the Father is "rich in mercy" and Jesus Christ reveals the Father so that the Father "becomes ‘visible’ in a particular way as the Father who is rich in mercy."

My struggle ... your struggle ... our struggle ... is that we often hide from God in our shame. However, God is love and the Father is rich in mercy. "In truth God wants to call [us] from within [our] own sinfulness, his own hiding from love, so that He can minister to the needs of [us] from within. It is [our] darkness within [our] heart that cries to God, invites God, summons God to be who He is for such a [person]: compassion. 'Far from diminishing God’s yearning for us, our brokenness unleashes in him yet deeper wellsprings of tenderness and mercy.'" (5)

"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." (6)

"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." (7)

"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." (8)

Rejoice and be glad, for the Father who is tirelessly calling you is rich in mercy.


This Sunday, September 15 we continue the second part of the "Who is Jesus?" homily series. This Sunday's homily will focus on Jesus as the revelation of the Father's mercy. Yesterday we prayed with the Readings that we'll hear at Mass. Today, reflect upon the prodigal son. 

Here's what's interesting: the father in the parable is a generous father. In fact, he tells his older son: "everything I have is yours." (Luke 15:31) The prodigal son, the younger son, had the same father. Surely, the prodigal son knew that "everything" the father had was his. However, "the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country." (Luke 15:13) Why? Why did the son leave? What was he looking for? Everything ... everything ... he needed and wanted was there, with his father. However, something within drew him to leave. Why? Why did he leave? Was he looking for more? Was he not trust that "happiness" would be experienced with his father? Why did he leave?

Hmmmmmm ... why do you leave? What is it that draws you away from Christ? And, are you utterly convinced that staying with Jesus is enough ... that He's enough to make you happy?

Click here to listen to week 1 of the new series: "Who is Jesus?"

(1) Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, no. 2
(2) Ibid., no. 10
(3) Romans 7:15, 19
(4) Blessed John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, no. 2
(5) Deacon Jim Keating, Ph.D., "Surrendering to the Healing Power of Christ’s Own Chastity"
(6) Deacon Jim Keating, Ph.D., "The Eucharist and the Healing of our Affection for Sin"
(7) Ibid.
(8) Ibid.