Pope Francis has designated this year as a “Year of Mercy” for the church. We rejoice! God’s mercy endures through all generations. As we focus on the scriptures about God’s mercy, we begin to realize that God’s mercy and love is one of His greatest gifts to us. His grace is bestowed upon us each daily. Many times we are unaware of its magnitude or God’s presence. God’s grace is freely given; hopefully freely received. God loves us all best. His message is clear. “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son Jesus to die for us.” We all know the message of the Gospels. We all can sing about Jesus, write about Jesus, and share about Jesus. Jesus is the “Good News” that our One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic faith proclaims. However, it is only after we come face to face with ourselves, that the Catholic faith becomes our faith. It is then that we realize just what was in the cup that Jesus drank. As we look deep within ourselves in prayer, quieting our soul, we allow God to reveal to us who He is. This soul-searching brings us face to face with the Truth. We, like the disciple Peter, cry out in desperation, “Lord, I am a sinful man.” We all fall short of the Glory of God. All have sinned and all are in need of a Savior. It is in this “Holy Moment,” that real, true faith begins to emerge from our soul. Oh how we need a Savior. The more truth resides in our soul, the more we are able to surrender our lives to Jesus and to live for Him. Our hearts overflow with gratefulness and joy.
As we accept God’s gift of mercy and love through the sacraments, the Gospel begins to come alive in our hearts. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, we try to extend that same mercy and love to others. Repentance becomes our way of life, running to Jesus when we have sinned. We begin to live our lives as a thank-you card to Jesus who died for us. Daily we humble ourselves before our living God, knowing how far short we come. We pray fervently, knowing how much we need His love, His mercy, and His grace. We cry out with Peter, “My Lord and My God!”
David, the shepherd boy, knew about God’s mercy and about God’s love. David knew about repentance too. David loved God, but more importantly, God loved David. David was known as a “Man after God’s own heart.” God bestowed upon David daily graces, of which David was often unaware. Then one day David saw himself for who he was. His sin brought him face to face with his need of his God.
1 For the leader. A psalm of David,
2 when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
3 Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
4 Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me.
5 For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.
6 Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your eyes
So that you are just in your word, and without reproach in your judgment.
7 Behold, I was born in guilt, in sin my mother conceived me.
8 Behold, you desire true sincerity; and secretly you teach me wisdom.
9 Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
10 You will let me hear gladness and joy; the bones you have crushed will rejoice.
11 Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my iniquities.
12 A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.
13 Do not drive me from before your face, nor take from me your holy spirit.
14 Restore to me the gladness of your salvation; uphold me with a willing spirit.
15 I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.
16 Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God,
and my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.
17 Lord, you will open my lips; and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
18 For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it; a burnt offering you would not accept.
19 My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.
20 Treat Zion kindly according to your good will; build up the walls of Jerusalem.
21 Then you will desire the sacrifices of the just, burnt offering and whole offerings;
then they will offer up young bulls on your altar. (New American Bible, Revised Ed. Taken from usccb.org)
David knew that he was a, “Man after God’s own heart,” only because of the graces that God had bestowed upon him. Humility preceded repentance in David’s life. God formed in David a contrite heart, an unshakable faith, that no man, no sin, nothing could take away from Him. David may have been King of Israel before, but now the God of the universe was King of David’s Heart. David may have danced with joy before, but now David danced for God alone. David’s heart was set on serving the living God of the universe, but now David’s heart was set on God alone.
The heart is a work of God. God knits us together in our mother’s womb before we see the light of day. In the same way He knits our hearts within us in such a fashion as to know God, to love God and to serve God. He changes us within as we spend time with Him. It is in His presence in prayer, or in the adoration chapel, and in the Sacraments, that we are being fashioned for God. He changes us within as we spend time with Him. God is the God of miracles. The greatest miracle happens within the heart. It is in the secret of our hearts, alone with our Jesus, our Savior, and our Lord that He fills us with His love. Praise wells up in our soul and we burst into song. Amazing grace becomes the theme song of our lives at least for those who have surrendered all to Jesus and learned to walk in His ways. We proclaim like the saints before us, “All Is Grace!”
This is the year of mercy and we rejoice. Never have we needed God’s mercy more individually, or as a people, than now. As we search the Scriptures, we discover that God’s prophets’ main message is to call God’s people to repentance. Pope Francis has been given this message for our church today. The “Year of Mercy,” is a call to receive God’s mercy and extend God’s mercy. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ’s message was short yet clear, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” The “Year of Mercy,” is the call to repentance as well. Those who know our Savior know that His mercy is never to be taken for granted. It cost Jesus a price; a bloody sacrifice given out of His love for us.
Don’t let the, “Year of Mercy,” pass you by. How will you respond to the invitation? In this, “Year of Mercy,” be still and get to know God for yourself. Quiet your soul in humble repentance. Pause to listen to what your Savior has to say to you. Frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let your life be a thank you card for what your God has done for you. Let your heart be full of joy as the praise flows from your lips in songs of adoration. “His Mercy Endures Through All Generations.” As freely as you have received His mercy, freely extend His mercy to others. Be merciful as He is merciful. Let God change you within during this “Year of Mercy” as you spend time with Him. Miracles happen! The greatest miracles happen in the heart. Let a miracle begin in your heart by emptying yourself of sin so that God can fill you with His love. It will be the greatest miracle of all! Freely-Given; Freely-Received.