3rd Sunday after Pentecost 25.6.17 Mercy
The mercy of God is our foundation and security. We do not like having to ask for mercy all the time, but still we are glad it is there – like a safety net for the trapeze artists.
Even if we fall many times, He will forgive us ‘seventy times seven’ (Mt 18,22).
It is amazing that He perseveres with us. But this is His Sacred Heart, which burns like a furnace with love for man.
Or the Good Shepherd, who goes out to seek even one lost sheep, when others might write off the loss.
We are grateful to Our Lord for His mercy, and we resolve, with His grace, to amend our lives as needed.
We want also to make positive contributions as part of our atonement - to help save others, which we know is His great desire.
We must want what He wants, that other sheep be saved. The ninety-nine sheep should be rejoicing when the lost sheep returns. As should the older brother have rejoiced in the return of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15, 25-30).
The Sacred Heart burns with love for mankind. When it comes to us, it can be that the only ‘burning’ is that of anger against those who have offended us!
We know we are supposed to forgive others, but we can be very grudging on that point.
Not many would have a burning love for their neighbour, especially the neighbour who has offended us - but that is just where God is different. This is one of His mysteries, and one that really hits home to us, because we find it so difficult.
God is infinitely merciful, but we can be more interested in the claims of justice than mercy. We feel acutely any wrong others do to us, and we share the general rage against wrongdoers – murderers, terrorists, thieves, rapists etc.
God goes so much further and deeper than we do. We need to let more of His way sink in, and it will change us for the good.
We have just been asking (at Pentecost) the Holy Spirit to inflame our hearts. This is part of the process – that our hearts be inflamed with the merciful love of God, giving us a desire to forgive others.
It is easier to understand at the physical level. We are glad to help someone who is in some physical difficulty – trapped in a fire, fallen in the river etc. At such times a common humanity comes in, and we feel compassion for the one in need. We do not stop to consider: is this a good or a bad person? We simply want to help.
We just need to stretch that compassion to the moral sphere as well. We feel sorry for the sinner; sorry that he has taken whatever wrong turnings to get to where he is; anxious to help him back to the right path.
Seen in this light we have goodwill, after all, even for bad people, even those who offend us. We just want to rescue the one in need.
We draw warmth from the Sacred Heart. Only He can open our hearts to the sort of charity to which He calls us. We are capable of it, because that is how we will be in Heaven. In Heaven no one ever has an uncharitable thought. We will be delighted to see our worst enemy there with us.
If that sounds unlikely just yet, it means we are not ready for Heaven. That is what Purgatory is for, to purify us of all wrong ways of thinking. We can begin the process in this life.
We are made in God's image; and through the sacraments we share His inner life. We cannot keep attitudes which are alien to Him, and still expect to live with Him.
We look for the good in people; we want to see them restored by God's mercy.
Meanwhile He wants it far more than we ever could. And we have to be grateful for that.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.