Friday, November 1, 2013

Mercy Found Me

Reflections on the Readings
November 3, 2013 - 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

Mercy Found Me

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."

Pondering the Mystery of Mercy

Today we ponder more deeply the mystery of our redemption. The more we think upon it, the more we realize the multifaceted splendor of God's love for us. One facet of this unending mystery is the mission of mercy God embraces - not for himself - but for us. It is He who seeks us; searching for and finding the lost. Mercy is not static but dynamic. We see this truth about our Savior. Jesus is not willing that any should perish. His concern for our well being is deep in his heart. This well being is not simply a better feeling, but it is a better life - a life that is God's Spirit in us welling up like a spring of living water. Such mercy should be announced with all the enthusiasm we can harness. There is no greater wonder. No greater kindness has ever been known. Get this. From the realms of unapproachable light, a light of inestimable mercy comes into our world to seek and to save us. Not to overcome and to dominate, but to embrace us and to whisper into our hearts his undying love. That is the majesty of the mercy we receive from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Is it something we should know better, appreciate more? You bet. None of this mercy business should be taken lightly. We ought to approach the whole notion of being Christian with a lot more zeal. A lot more intentional effort. And a whole lot more understanding. Without that mercy we are lost and undone, without God and His Son in our life. That's hell. And multitudes are living below this mercy. The millions who profess themselves to be Christian too often take God's mercy for granted. Starting right now, do you agree with me, that from this moment forward we will be more thankful that grace and mercy found us? That we will pray that more will join us in pondering the mystery of mercy? Good! 

We're Always on his Mind

In the the First Reading we hear that God is a lover of souls. That's an infinitely moving understanding of the character of God. It is His imperishable spirit that we breathe. We live and move and owe our very existence to Him. This is why we value the gift of life. It is life that is God given. He made us, and not we ourselves. We embrace life in all of its imperfections. This is why we do not believe in such things as assisted suicide or in the taking of the innocent life in the womb. All life, with all its quirks or missing parts, or non-working parts, all life is God's gift for all of us to cherish. Each one of us have God as our Creator. All are the object of his love and mercy. We're always on his mind. His thoughts for us and toward us are full of mercy for us. 

He does not abandon us, but rather he looks us up, reminds us gently that we are not yet who we ought to be. He gathers us up in his arms and bathes us in his mercy. It is not possible to speak too much of this. Nor do we have the vocabulary we would wish to have when speaking of things that come from the very heart of God. As we hear in the First Reading: Before the Lord the whole universe is as a grain from the balance or a drop of morning dew come down from earth. But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people's sins that they may repent. God is not willing that we should somehow go through this life and not know of his kindness and mercy to the children of Adam. 

The Mission of Mercy

Yes, mercy, God's redeeming mercy is here. Seeking us. Finding us in all of our awkwardness and shame. Today he seeks us. He does not abandon his own. Every one is precious in His sight. When we begin to see ourselves and others through this lens of mercy we too will have an irresistible hope that all the lost will be found. For the life of me, I really don't understand those in today's Gospel who showed disgust that Jesus went home with a sinner. Let us not forget, when we go home today from this Holy Place, we will go home with the Body and Blood of Christ in us - because He wants to go home with us today. Take him home with you and everywhere you go this week. For today mercy has found you once again, and the great salvation of God has come to your house. Amen. 

Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at:   

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