Fr. George rushed in to mass late with apologies and then preached on mercy. He had valid excuses for his tardiness (his car was encrusted in ice and he was inspired to write down a future book idea), but we didn’t need them. His presence and the message were most welcome. The word ‘mercy’ has been coming to my mind a lot lately. Me, people I know, our church, our country, and our world are positively starving for it these days.
Mercy is predicated on honesty. To admit you need mercy means admitting wrong, and that’s an awfully hard thing to do, even (maybe especially) for serious grownups. Mostly, it’s much more comfortable to see and point out the wrongs of others. As Beth Moore recently said, “Anyone will do. Everyone is even better.” But mercy is a healing balm, and it’s contagious, too. Once you have it for yourself, you become a messenger of mercy to those around you. From one heart to another, changing the world a little bit at a time.
How we experience mercy depends on honesty within ourselves, stretches of quiet, and our willingness to put things down and walk away. I myself am carrying a couple of heavy things so tightly these days that I can just picture Jesus standing next to me shaking His head slowly with His arms open and saying, “aren’t you ready to leave that stuff with me yet?” Ah, maybe someday soon. Maybe tomorrow.
Fr. George preached on the popular saying that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. It’s a human reality that we see play out over and over in history and in our own daily lives. We tear each other down and we build up burdens because in life we wrongly see a finite pie of goodness, power, friendship, blessings, and love and we all compete for slices. We deny mercy to people. I do, sometimes. However, God’s equation is not finite, but limitless and it’s all about mercy and grace. It’s about winding, bending roads and the mathematical impossibility of making good from evil. It’s a pie big enough to feed everyone and have some left over. It’s exchanging a sword for a plowshare. Limitless mercy means there’s simply nothing we can do that would remove us from our loving God and His help. That’s good news today.
As I walk outside and breathe in the winter air and hear the birds still singing, I’m reminded that God is walking with me. One season follows the last. It’s Lent and then Easter. Winter and then spring. Today, we could say something that needs saying, forgive that friend, lay something heavy down, and it would be a pebble skipping in a pond. From mercy to mercy, a healing could finally begin.