But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love He has for us, Ephesians 2:4
My big brother Jim was a great guy! I have so many memories of our childhood; and like all brothers and sisters close in age, it should come as no surprise that most of those memories are of great times and events, and others…well…not so much! Jim was tall and strong and he absolutely LOVED to catch me by surprise and grab my hands and start a game of “mercy”. The rules were simple, bend back your opponent’s hands until they cried “mercy” and then you’d stop. Strange game I know but he did it every chance he got. Jim was competitive and beating me was quick work when I was little but as I got older and he began to realize I had inherited our mother’s huge, strong hands and long fingers I wasn’t such a quick win and he had to take it up a notch when I beat him a time or two. After I had a taste of victory, I wasn’t as eager to spit out that cry for “mercy” to end the game. I giggle when I remember the last Christmas we were all together, I was 20 and he was 22 and we were still playing that stupid game.
One thing I could always count on from Jim was immediate mercy when I called out the word. He didn’t take a second to honor the request, he stopped instantly. “Mercy” was a game played by lots of folks when I was growing up (maybe it was a Kansas thing??) but not every opponent honored the request for mercy immediately but Jim did and that always stuck with me. For Catholics all over the world, the Sunday after Easter is known as Divine Mercy Sunday and it’s a day we celebrate the immediate, guaranteed and undeserved Mercy of the God who loves us. I read somewhere that GRACE is a gift freely given by God for things we don’t deserve and MERCY is a gift freely given in place of what we do deserve. Thank goodness! If God chose to discipline me with penalties and punishments for all my sin and shortcomings I’d never get ahead…I think He knew that and that’s why He invented mercy! In fact, His Divine Mercy is even more immediate than that shown by my brother Jim in that silly game we used to play.
In order to better understand the gift of Divine Mercy, I’ve borrowed some words from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception website…may their words help your heart understand this beautiful gift. The ABC’s make it easy to understand… A – Ask for His mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and the whole world. B– Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. C – Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
Lucky us!!! How blessed are we to receive the gift of His mercy…but wait…if you read carefully you noticed the parts that said the gift is free but it comes with an expectation! The expectation is that we must extend His mercy to those around us! YUP…that means to those who have wronged us and hurt us and haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain. I suppose it’s a little like the way we are with God; often hurting him, not living up to our end of the bargain and doing dozens of assorted “wrongs” a week. I’m thankful for the memory of my brother Jim and our countless games of “mercy” because it was a wee little sneak peek into the beautiful revelation of the Divine Mercy of our Father.
A Seed To Plant: Pray over the Mercy ABC’s and jot down those things you need to ask God’s mercy for and then make a list of those whom you will allow His mercy to flow through you and land on!
Blessings on your day!
Help me, Lord, my God; save me in your kindness. Psalm 109:26
As I contemplate the joy and amazement of this Easter season my thoughts just get lost in the “wow” of it all. How did a stone that big just get moved over? How did the Apostles feel when they saw Jesus again? How must Thomas have felt when Jesus loved him enough to let him touch his wounds so he would be convinced? How must Mary have felt to hold her sons face in her hands and look lovingly into his eyes again? The list of questions goes on and on and all I come away with is … “wow – I can’t even imagine!”
I think we forget through Jesus’ resurrection we also received a resurrection. He paid the enormous cost for all of our sins. It’s not often in life someone does ALL the hard, horrible, painful work for us and we simply reap the benefit but it happened one Easter long ago. That Easter lives on to this day and as Christians, we’re still basking in the blessings of the resurrection. As I’ve been contemplating the “Wow” of the resurrection, I’ve made a list of things I need a resurrection from. They will take a lot of work and maybe some sacrifice and perhaps even a fair dose of suffering but if I want to share in the joy of Jesus’ resurrection I figure I’ve got a little work of my own to do. And I suppose my greatest hope is to be more in love with him and more connected to him and even more filled with Easter joy! Here’s my list…
*I need to be resurrected from selfishness! A wise woman I know recently said that complaining is the greatest form of selfishness because the reason we whine and complain is to let others know something happened to us that wasn’t convenient or pleasant and we want attention for it. I didn’t want to believe her but the more I think about it the more “right” I realize she really is! Lord, help me realize the world isn’t obligated to ensure my comfort and happiness.
*I need to be resurrected from narrow-mindedness! I’ve got to remember I don’t know what I don’t know! I see a tiny sliver of the situation but if I had the chance to see the whole thing I would realize how narrow my perspective can truly be! That needs to be my first thought and not my last.
*I need to be resurrected from indulgence! I approach the comforts of this world with my hands poised to reach out and take rather than with hands lifted to thank and share. I often want the first, prime choice things for myself instead of being satisfied with the crumbs or the crusts. I approach things and feel the need to grab them up in case they won’t be there later instead of trusting that I will always have exactly what I need exactly when I need it. (You would think by now that I would realize there will not be a world-wide shortage of chocolate chip cookies or mashed potatoes!) My indulgence can border on greed more often than I’d like to admit! Lord remind me all I need is You!
*I need to be resurrected from doubt! My blessings outweigh my struggles by a hundred-fold but I seem to forget that daily! Jesus, heal me of my unbelief…yes I do think those words were put specifically in the New Testament for me!!!!
Jesus didn’t rise by himself; it was through the power of His Heavenly Father. I need to remember that He is my Father too and if I but call on His name and trust in His infinite wisdom, power and love I too will experience a resurrection from all the things on my list. Why do I make it so hard…I call upon His name, I suffer through the process of change a bit all the while remembering He’s got me in the palm of His hand and I will rise above it and be closer to Him. Seems simple enough…guess I better get to work on my resurrection!
A Seed To Plant: What are some of the things you need a resurrection from? As you make your list, read the resurrection story slowly and carefully and allow yourself to be swept away in the “Wow” of the story!
Blessings on your day!
He is not here, He has risen just as he said.. Matthew 28:6
Happy Easter! It’s the day on the Christian calendar that means EVERYTHING to us! It’s about so much more than chocolate bunnies, pretty dresses and baskets filled with surprises. I have so many thoughts about the glory of this day…but here’s the deal…its late Easter Sunday night as I type and it was one of the greatest Easters I remember! The sunshine finally made its way to Michigan and it was nearly 70 degrees today…so of course we stayed outside to soak up every second of it. The other thing that made the day so fabulous is it was our turn to host the Easter party so today we celebrated with nearly 60 of my husband’s family. We laughed a lot, ate too much and enjoyed each other’s company for hours and hours!
Sadly, everyone has gone home and the house is quiet and back in order; the floor swept and the dishes all put away but the one thing I’m in no hurry to clean up is the glass storm door leading to the front porch. The family has grown to include several great nieces and nephews and they left their adorable little finger prints all over the door. After everyone had gone home I found myself washing dishes at the sink just staring at those little prints wondering how my own children had grown past that stage right before my very eyes. Spring came today, in all its glory…we wondered if it ever would, but everything changes and runs in cycles…including fingers that grow too big to leave prints and smears on the glass. The one thing that never changes though is the love of the Savior that brought us all together today.
I hope your Easter was wonderful! I’m sad the day has come to an end but I’m comforted by the fact that we are an Easter people and the celebration will continue…it’s bigger than one day so that gives me a chance to just stare at the little fingerprints that warm my heart a little longer and know I can still write about Easter on Thursday!
Blessings on your day!
Click on the items below to expand the options available to you to explore the Joyful Words blog.