I think you stand a better chance of getting it right this time— than you did several weeks ago – when I ask the question again: what do all of these statements have in common:
-He’s just a kid. We should not let one action ruin his whole life - he deserves a second chance.
-I accept your apology and forgive you - and let’s do our best to put it behind us.
-Just because she was like that once - doesn’t mean she is that way now: people CAN change. . .
-Or how about this one: I’m not perfect - so how can I expect anyone else to be?
Did you get it this time? They are things we almost NEVER hear people say.
Again, perhaps more accurate to say that I seldom hear these things said - but something tells me that it’s probably the same with you.
Instead, we hear things like:
-I hope that guy gets what’s coming to him.
-I’m never going to forgive her because of what she said to me.
-People never change – if he was like that before, he’s still like that.
-Or, why can’t people just be perfect like me??
One definition of MERCY is the “compassionate treatment of those in distress, especially when it is within one’s power to punish or harm them.”
That’s why Pope Francis says “a little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”
We seldom here words that extend mercy to others - because is seems as if mercy is kind of in short supply.
And maybe this is nothing new– maybe it’s always been this way - and maybe that’s because mercy might be one of the most difficult things we can do - and so we seldom practice it and so seldom hear about it.
Because unlike other positive attributes like generosity, honesty, or compassion – mercy is hard to fake - because it has to be soooo intentional.
In fact many people see us as kind of weak or soft if we show mercy to others - and few of us want to come off looking this way.
Maybe you disagree – and that’s okay. I’m just saying from my perspective, specifically the vengeful things I sometimes hear people say – mercy is not meted out in abundance. . .
And so it is hard for us to want to extend mercy to others, hard for us to be kind, and loving, and forgiving – when our knee-jerk reaction is to act otherwise.
Of course we seldom want someone else’s knee-jerk reaction directed at us – when it comes to OUR faults, failing, and imperfections - we certainly want others to be merciful to us – but to extend that mercy to others– it’s mt so easy and so not so fast.
And that’s unfortunate – because Pope Francis has also said that “mercy is the very face of God.” The God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – whom we gather to celebrate today on this feast of the Holy Trinity.
This feast teaches us that at the very heart of God - at the very core of God – is the a “relationship.” And not just any kind of relationship – but a loving relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit. Love is at the core of who God is – and it is love that is not hoarded and not clung to by God – not kept in a tight embrace – BUT POURED OUT FOR US.
And poured out not just once in awhile – but continuously. A love that is merciful, just, overwhelming, abundant, all accepting and all forgiving.
This is who we believe that God is:
God the Father – the one who created all things out of love and saw that all of it was good. Which includes you and me – we are good - and God the Father holds all creation in the palm of his hand – gently sustaining us and every other created thing.
This is also God the Son: the one who became like us in order to save us, redeem us, and show us what true love looks like.
And this is God the Spirit: our God who is not watching us from a distance, but who is alive and well and at work in every human heart.
At the heart of God - and God’s very core is a relationship. A relationship of love which includes abundant mercy: “for God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
So if this is our God, and we are called to be like God – why do we have such a hard time embracing the very core of who God is?
The answer is not a simple one – and each of us has our own reasons as to why we fall short of being the person God wants us to be.
But when we look at the life of Jesus, it becomes abundantly clear that:
God is NOT looking for reasons to punish us.
God is NOT looking for an opportunity to “give us what we deserve.”
God is NOT looking for a way to “teach us a hard lesson” or “make sure we know who is in charge” or cause us to worry unnecessarily or fear God’s wrath every second of every day.
NO, our God is constantly looking for opportunities to show us mercy, opportunities to forgive us, opportunities to be generous, opportunities to simply love us.
That’s our incredible and awesome God. That’s who God is. And that should make us wonder: who are we? Or more importantly: who do we want to be?
Let’s always look to the Trinity to answer those questions.
Moments in time...