Saturday, April 2, 2016

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sun., Apr. 3

HAPPY EASTER!  ALLELUIA!!!   Easter is such a full and rich mystery, such a great celebration, that we take 50 days to celebrate it:  all the way to Pentecost!

Today is also “Divine Mercy Sunday”.  In this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, it is most appropriate therefore that we reflect today on mercy.  Rather than look at a specific corporal or spiritual work of mercy, today we will reflect on mercy in general. 

William Shakespeare, in his play The Merchant of Venice, gives us a wonderful reflection on mercy:
“The quality of mercy is not strained; / It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; / It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes / The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, / The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; / But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings, / It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice.”

Pope Francis agrees with Shakespeare in that the Pope sees mercy as an essential element of God.  God is all about mercy.  The saving life, death and resurrection of Jesus – which we have just celebrated and are still celebrating – is striking proof that God is all about mercy.  Indeed the phrase “Divine Mercy” is almost a redundancy, for the divine IS mercy!

So if we want to be “god-like”, what we need to do is not be invincible and all-powerful, rather we need to practice mercy.  We need to be merciful with others, with the environment, with our own selves.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, spend a little time reflecting on how you can practice mercy in your daily life.  Where are the opportunities to be merciful in your family, in your school or workplace, in your parish, in your neighborhood and city?   How does practicing mercy influence the way you vote, or what you buy, or what you say?  Practicing mercy is all-encompassing.

God always remains merciful.  I leave you with this quote from Pope Francis: “Let us also remember Peter: there times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him.  And when he hits rock bottom, he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him, “Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in me.“  Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus, and he weeps.  How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus – how much tenderness is there!  Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!”  (homily of April 7, 2013)

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