Mercy Which we Give to Others, Will be the Mercy Shown to Us by Our God

03-20-2022Letters From Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

We have learned from the teachings of Pope Francis that God’s middle name must be “mercy” and also that for us to be His people we must rely completely on His mercy which he offers to each one of us. Indeed in many ways our motto in life could be the singular word “mercy”. Mercy must be the sign and hallmark of who we are who claim to walk in the Way of Jesus Christ. We must work hard to make mercy an everyday reality in our lives. This does not mean we simply feel bad for people and have a good thought for them, rather it is living in and loving our world with all its good, its flaws, its successes, it struggles, and in the very end of it all showing kindness to anyone whether we believe the person merits it. Mercy does not measure kindness, mercy is simple kindness itself.

In our first reading which is from the Book of Exodus, God sees and also hears the suffer- ing of the Israelites in Egypt and responds. God appears as a fire which does not destroy. God turns to them with mercy. God actually reveals himself to Moses and the Israelites (and then in the fullness of time to us). In his mercy this great God invites and calls each one of us to a new vocation. Moses is called to lead these suffering people and to speak the mercy of God’s name to them. The Israelites have begged for God’s help and God responds in His mercy and sends someone, Moses, to lead them out of bondage. Our second reading is addressed to everyone who is a beneficiary of God’s mercy. We are told that we are blessed by God and we must not turn our backs on God’s goodness and turn toward sin. We learn that our God cannot and will not save those who have chosen not to be saved. We learn that without a doubt God’s mercy may be ours if we choose to accept it, but we may reject it forthwith by means of sin.

Jesus issues a warning at the beginning of our Gospel passage by using the unfortunate Galileans as an example. Jesus tells us not to put off conversion of heart, a change which is an important point for us to consider as we enter mid-Lent. We are told that the time to change is now, not later. The example used by Jesus is the fig tree which was a special and valued tree in the time of Jesus because of its luscious fruit. The interplay with the farmer about waiting a bit longer, but finally deciding whether to cut it down shows how serious the issue is of time and conversion. This story is to remind us that although God is abounding in mercy, we must do our part by responding to mercy, turning away from sin, and reaching out with mercy to others. The story of the fig tree is for us to reach the conclusion that if we refuse to produce such “fruit,” even the all-merciful God will not save us.

As the Church, we are meant to be at all times a community of forgiven and forgiving sin- ners. In our unfair, violent, war torn and divided world we are called to understanding, to kind- ness, open-mindedness, and mercy. We also remember the words of Jesus that the mercy which we give to others, will be the mercy shown to us by our God.

Fr. Brian