3rd Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

I once worked with a Jesuit Priest who was also a good friend. When we first began to work together we were so excited. After a short time however, our friendship began to sour. I think, in a way, we competed against each other for authority and for the affection of the people. I spoke badly of him and he spoke badly of me and I would hear about it later. When I was in the Philippines, making the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, I remember feeling so furious with him. I thought of all the things I had heard that he had said about me. I would turn over and over in my head all of these words and kind of imagine how I could get him back. And then I received God’s grace. I began to think of all the things I had said about him and all the things I had done to make myself more important. I realized that I had hurt him. At the same time as feeling shame I also felt a sense of the fullness of love. I knew that with all my bad actions and my bad words about my friend that God was still trying to love me. I decided that the next time I saw him I would ask his forgiveness. I knew that God had shown me mercy and in receiving his mercy I knew that I didn’t have to be afraid in asking mercy from another person. He could accept it or reject it, or even reciprocate it, but what was important to me was that I acknowledge my wrongs and say I’m sorry.

In this Sunday’s Gospel we have a magnificent passage. It is Jesus’ first public preaching and, as being first, he outlines the content of his mission and the life of God’s kingdom. And what is the first proclamation? It is mercy. Reading from the Prophet Isaiah, Christ says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captive and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” It seems without debate, that the proclamation of the kingdom is the proclamation of the Father’s mercy. The centrality of mercy is clear in the Church. Pope Francis has declared this year the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, and in 1980 St John Paul II said that love and mercy are synonyms, to say that God is love is to say that God is mercy. We make a mistake if we reduce mercy to an instruction, i.e. I will be merciful because I’ve been told to be merciful. Mercy is more like the expression of our experience and relationship with God. I seek to be merciful because mercy has been shown me. I forgive because I have been forgiven. As we receive mercy from God, we don’t take it like a bit of good fortune. Instead, we embrace it as God’s gift and his gift is meant to reside within our hearts. When mercy lives within our hearts, it changes our hearts. If we let it, it can made our hearts softer, more tender, more gentle and more understanding. The reaching out in mercy can become our normal way of living. On this Sunday, if we are to strengthen the body of Christ through welcoming the members of his body (that is, all of us), then we are called to live a life rooted and grounded in mercy. When we see with the hearth that knows mercy we don’t see persons who are merely sinners, merely people who have different opinions or merely persons with different ways of acting. With Christ there is no ‘Jew or Greek, slave or free.’ We are his beloved. We are his beloved sons and daughters.

God Bless & Take Care!

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Weekly Parish Bulletin241.9 KB

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