USCCB REFLECTION

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“THE QUALITY OF MERCY”

“I have no one with me but Luke.” —2 Timothy 4:11
 
When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, Luke was the only one with him. Although Paul was on trial, everyone had abandoned him (2 Tm 4:16).
Luke seems to have had a heart of mercy for the lonely and abandoned. Only in Luke’s Gospel do we meet the penitent woman (Lk 7:37), the good Samaritan (Lk 10:33), the prodigal son (Lk 15:12), Lazarus the beggar (Lk 16:20), the thankful healed Samaritan leper (Lk 17:16), the tax collector in the Temple (Lk 18:10), Zacchaeus the tax collector (Lk 19:2), and the “good thief” (Lk 23:40). These are just a few of the people that only Luke records as receiving God’s mercy.
As in Luke’s time, our world is increasingly overflowing with lonely and abandoned people. Although many are innocent victims of others’ sins, we have also caused our own problems. We have begun to receive the just wages of our sins (Rm 6:23). Although we deserve to suffer, we can receive and give mercy because Jesus met the demands of justice on Calvary. “Blest are they who show mercy, mercy shall be theirs” (Mt 5:7).
 
Prayer: Lord, have mercy on me and on others through me.
Promise: “The harvest is rich but the workers are few; therefore ask the harvest-Master to send workers to His harvest.” —Lk 10:2
Praise: St. Luke ministered to the suffering, including us. He especially emphasized prayer, poverty, and purity of heart.

The Lord follows his preachers

The Lord sends his disciples out to preach in twos in order to teach us silently that whoever fails in charity toward his neighbour should by no means take upon himself the office of preaching.Beloved brothers, our Lord and Saviour sometimes gives us instruction by words and sometimes by actions. His very deeds are our commands; and whenever he acts silently he is teaching us what we should do. For example, he sends his disciples out to preach two by two, because the precept of charity is twofold – love of God and of one’s neighbour.
  Rightly is it said that he sent them ahead of him into every city and place where he himself was to go. For the Lord follows after the preachers, because preaching goes ahead to prepare the way, and then when the words of exhortation have gone ahead and established truth in our minds, the Lord comes to live within us. To those who preach Isaiah says: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. And the psalmist tells them: Make a way for him who rises above the sunset. The Lord rises above the sunset because from that very place where he slept in death, he rose again and manifested a greater glory. He rises above the sunset because in his resurrection he trampled underfoot the death which he endured. Therefore, we make a way for him who rises above the sunset when we preach his glory to you, so that when he himself follows after us, he may illumine you with his love.
  Let us listen now to his words as he sends his preachers forth: The harvest is great but the labourers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest. That the harvest is good but the labourers are few cannot be said without a heavy heart, for although there are many to hear the good news there are only a few to preach it. Indeed, see how full the world is of priests, but yet in God’s harvest a true labourer is rarely to be found; although we have accepted the priestly office we do not fulfil its demands.
  Think over, my beloved brothers, think over his words: Pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest. Pray for us so that we may be able to labour worthily on your behalf, that our tongue may not grow weary of exhortation, that after we have taken up the office of preaching our silence may not bring us condemnation from the just judge.

ASHAMED OF MERCY?

“I am not ashamed of the gospel.” —Romans 1:16
 
I wonder if deep down we don’t proclaim the Good News more fervently because we are embarrassed that the guilty receive unmerited mercy. The rapist, terrorist, abortionist, murderer, and other wrongdoers confess their sins (Ps 32:5), repent and sin no more (Jn 8:11), accept and live their Baptism, and their sins are simply forgiven. They receive eternal life in heaven (see Lk 23:42-43). They seem to not receive the punishment due to their sins. “There is no condemnation now for those who are in Jesus Christ” (Rm 8:1). To law-abiding citizens, this can look unfair.
Our secular society demands justice and punishment. Simply browse the comments in any social media outlet when a grave act of injustice occurs. Victims cry out for healing and restitution. Lawyers press for damages, and then some. Bystanders scream for punishment, even before a criminal trial.
The gospel of Christ (Rm 1:16) proclaims that Jesus is our Justice (1 Cor 1:30). Accordingly, He handles all the demands of justice for all parties. The gospel also proclaims that “God is rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4), and that God repays any damages that have occurred (see Jl 2:25). Jesus receives the punishment in place of sinners and pours out mercy on both sinner and victim.
Instead of taking on Jesus’ job of figuring out punishments and restorations, our role is to fall on our knees before Jesus and beg for mercy and justice. Humanity is unable to do the job which belongs properly to the Lord, for His ways are far beyond our ways (Is 55:8-9). The conflicting demands of mercy and justice are no problem for Jesus, Who is Mercy and Justice incarnate.
 
Prayer: Father, remove from my heart and mind any embarrassment that might exist about Your lavish mercy toward sinners.
Promise: “If you give what you have as alms, all will be wiped clean for you.” —Lk 11:41
Praise: St. Ignatius worked for Christian unity by proclaiming the Eucharist.