Kindness and Mercy

02-24-2019Pastoral Reflections

Day Light: The hours of daylight are growing each day and life seems to get a little bit easier though everyone’s obligations and burdens still stay the same. Soon it will be Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent which will prepare us for the graced Celebrations of Holy Week that end with the lighting of the Easter Fire. How time moves ever so quickly. Hopefully, the next six weeks of winter will be as mild as the last six weeks. Construction is proceeding accordingly on the new addition. The elevator which came in many boxes (!) is now being assembled. This takes about three weeks, and then we will await the inspection and certification for us. The end is in sight, you just need very good eyes to see it!

With all the reported dramatic weather events that happen throughout the world and the discussion on climate change (whatever the reasons for this), it is strange that these events are labeled as “acts of God” in our insurance policies. They are, in fact, acts of nature no matter their attributed or known causes. One wishes that natural disasters would not be designated “acts of God.” Insurance companies use these labels for their own purposes. In some ways, the language of an insurance policy is arcane and confusing. At various times we also use the words “acts of God” with a different meaning. To us, our God is with us through it all. Genesis reminds us that God has been with us from Creation through our Redemption and is still with us in his Eucharistic Presence and in his Church. Our life is made better because of these acts of God. This is indeed a striking contrast and difference from the world of insurance and storms and disasters.

In our first reading this weekend, we may notice how King David had a deep sense of the presence of God. Note how it is David who raises up and enshrines the Ark of the Covenant, God’s dwelling among the people, and desires, even when sleeping, to build a worthy and proper temple and earthly place for God.

Remember that King Saul was no friend of David. Saul, in fact, was a troubled, vengeful, petty and jealous man. He wanted to get David. When David had the chance and right to end Saul’s life, this great king did not—because of his faith. As it turns out, David is given a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to end Saul’s life. But he does not do this because Saul is God’s anointed king. Saul’s life belongs to God, not to David. All of the people of Israel deeply admire David’s ability to honor God’s will and way, even at the risk of his own well-being.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues his talk to the people round about him. They were not the elites, such as philosophers or kings. He is talking to people just like you and me. We learn he prefers love and compassion over strict justice and personal vengeance. The word revenge is not in the vocabulary of life for Jesus. He asks from us a greatness of heart and generosity of spirit. We are called to love enemies, resist revenge, and let go of settling accounts. We are asked to makes our hearts bigger so that they are like the heart of God.

We tend to excuse ourselves easily from our mistakes, even when we deliberately do wrong. We announce, “We are only human!” Do you realize that Jesus knows we are only human? Knowing this truth, he asks us to be more like him with greater compassion and understanding. The work of God is kindness and mercy, and we are to make these virtues our business. None of this is easily done, but it is a must for us to always try.

Father Brian