Monday, September 16, 2013

Week of Mercy: Day 4

This past Sunday was an amazing day on several levels. I have already shared with you the story that was given to me the night before, the meditation that came that afternoon and one of the images of the sunset that I received that evening. However, my amazement began earlier in the day...

I had stayed up rather late on Saturday night, once again violating my promise to myself to start going to bed earlier. Once I had started writing the story, I simply had to find out how it was going to end. As a result, I was tired Sunday morning and slept a bit later than usual. I decided to go to a different church that would accommodate my sleepy time schedule - and, I must admit, I had already been feeling an inner urge to go to this church rather than my usual one.

(I love my usual church but I enjoy this other church too. The priests preach well but there is something else that is special. It is a newer building and is carpeted. In the back, there is an area where I discovered I can sit on the floor in a yoga position during Mass. No one else does this but, since people don't know me there, I feel rather anonymous and boldly do it. It is wonderful!)

Anyway, I arrived at the church without a minute to spare - which worked well for my plan to stay in the back. As the opening song began, I was surprised to find out that it was about mercy. (It is called "Hosea" and is based on verses from that book of the Bible. The first line is, "Come back to Me, with all your heart. Don't let fear keep us apart...")

Each of the biblical readings for the day carried the theme of mercy. First, Moses begs God to not destroy His people for being so "stiff-necked" (they had made a calf out of gold and were worshiping it while he was busy talking to God.) God listens to the prayer of Moses.  

Then, from Psalm 51, I heard these words:

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

Next, the words of St. Paul were read aloud , relating how he had been a blasphemer and arrogant persecutor of the church, but was mercifully treated. He wrote: 

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 
Of these I am the foremost. 
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him...

Finally, we heard the story of the Prodigal Son. It is one of the most famous of the parables told by Jesus: the younger son demands his inheritance from his father, squanders it foolishly and eventually comes home, asking to be treated only as well as his father's servants. And his father welcomes him, rejoicing that his son has come home safely.

All of these passages about mercy were set on the church calendar long ago but I hadn't known that when I started this Week of Mercy. A divine coincidence?

The priest spoke movingly of the mercy and love of God - I could not do justice to his words if I were to try to summarize them. But he emphasized a painting by Rembrandt portraying the merciful father of the parable. He encouraged us to look up the image online (or come to his confessional where there is a print of it hanging.). 

Here is the image:

Allow yourself to enter this image. See how the merciful father is holding his prodigal son's head to his heart... Allow yourself to be the son, receiving a loving welcome that you know you don't deserve. Hear your father's heart beating with excitement that you are home and let your tears mingle with his, as you are reunited at last. 

This is our loving God, waiting for us, longing to welcome us back into His heart. His heart which is our true home...

(Special thanks to Fr. Kevin whose homily inspired this post. Comments and contributions to this Week of Mercy are welcome and may be e-mailed to me at