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. We’re gong to dwell on the topic for a few weeks because our world is crying out for God’s love and mercy. 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!
…“You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’…Matthew 28:12
During the weeks since Easter I have been spending some time reading the story. As I was reading in the last chapter of Matthew’s gospel I got to verse 11 and wanted to yell, “Liar, Liar pants on fire!” It’s hard to believe the enemies of Jesus even tried to lie about something as astounding and beautiful as the resurrection. As I continued to read all I could think was; Wow…talk about an action packed story! This short Gospel has it all, epic drama, suspense, grief, jubilation, surprise, deceit, bribery and a splendid victorious hero! It’s a story of loyalty, love, dishonesty and the ultimate triumph of truth! Truth is a beautiful thing and we serve the God of truth.
Growing up the thing my dad held in highest regard was telling the truth, he considered truthfulness to be the most accurate mirror of a person’s character. He would often tell my brothers and me that one lie always ties itself to another and before long you could find yourself lying when the truth world fit better. That’s exactly what happened to the chief priests. How could anybody believe a small group of sorrowful and brokenhearted men appeared in the dark, rolled away an enormous stone and snuck off with Jesus’ body all without waking the team of soldiers assigned to guard the tomb? As Christians we know the truth fits better!
Sometimes Christ speaks truth to us and in our hearts we can be a little like the chief priests. Sometimes God’s truth is tough, especially when living it requires difficult change. The laws and truths of our faith are clear and often difficult to follow and we try to wriggle our way around them. Thank goodness we are loved by an Amazing Father who says to us, just as he said to the Mary’s in the garden that morning, “Do not be afraid.” He wants to lead us lovingly to his truth…his whole truth which offers the promise of eternal salvation.
A Seed To Plant: What are some truths you are struggling with? The Mary’s in this Gospel were fearful and overjoyed. In prayer today, ask God to guide you through the fear and lead you to the great joy and freedom found only through living completely in his truth.
Blessings on your day!
…with age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Jeremiah 31:3
For the last several weeks the middle lovelies have been preparing to present their Shadow Stations of the Cross. Every year I am struck by the simplicity, power and passion generated by a group of twelve year olds and its ability to stir the hearts and tears of a gym full of people. It is the perfect way to begin Holy Week.
After practice one day I overheard two of the kids talking and one of them said, “It’s hard to believe someone could love us enough to go through all this!” Honestly, I can’t believe it either! I watch from side stage as these kids act out the crucifixion and the tears sting! Sometimes my mind drifts to those who were witnesses to the real Passion of Christ and my heart nearly pounds out of my chest at the slightest imagining of what that must have been like. Holy Week always leaves me feeling so loved, but always with a tinge of guilt and not nearly enough gratitude. It’s easy for me to feel like I should be doing more…praying more…serving more…living better so I can show Jesus how much I love him. It’s easy to feel like I come up so short.
I was feeling that way this morning at mass and Father Eric said exactly what my heart needed to hear. If you’re mid way through your Holy Week thinking you can never repay Jesus for the gift he so extravagantly gave maybe this will help you enter into the Triduum peacefully and prayerfully too. When we consider the love Jesus has for us, we have to remember that it isn’t a contest. We can never match his love and his love doesn’t change. Instead of harboring thoughts of inadequacy Father suggests this very simple prayer. “Jesus I love you too!”
As we ponder the events of the Last Supper, the washing of the feet or the scourging we should just say “Thank You Jesus, I love you too!” That simple little prayer says it all. It allows us to acknowledge the depth of Jesus’ love and do the only thing we’re capable of…thank him and return the love. Instead of thinking; I haven’t earned this kind of love or I don’t deserve this huge love, I will just say thank you Jesus, I love you too! Those words just seem to settle the soul. I hope you’ll take them deep into your Holy Week too.
A Seed To Plant: Read the Holy Week story from the Gospels and end each part of your reading with the words, “Thank you Jesus, I love you too.”
Blessings on your day!
Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 5-11
We are almost there; we’re right on the edge of my favorite week of the year…Holy Week!! The question of the day is; are you gonna leap or limp into this spectacular week on the christian calendar? The choice is yours and the blessings and benefits of the week will be proportional to your choice.
Why might we limp? Sometimes it’s as simple as recognizing our “inner toddler”. We may be headed into Holy Week limping with a pouty heart because Lent didn’t finish as spectacularly as we had envisioned it on Ash Wednesday. Maybe we fell short, maybe all Lent did was make us more aware of our sinfulness and our stubbornness. Yeah…so what…join the club! The limpers probably tried to do Lent their way and wanted to feel great because of what they had done. Having a spotlight thrown on our flaws, weaknesses and flub-ups isn’t anything we’d purposefully sign up for but sometimes it’s exactly where Jesus needs us to park and stare. The other guess I’m willing to make is that the limpers are feeling like they didn’t “get” anything out of Lent. Everyone wants the “sparkle -farkle” “warm and fuzzy” holy feelings, and if we’re not feelin’ it we throw up our hands and think we’ll just give it a go next Ash Wednesday. Uhhh….that’s us trying to be the boss again…that’s us trying to tell Jesus what we need instead of considering the fact that he’s shown us some things he needs us to see and if we’ll just hang with him and give him everything during this Holy Week, he’s got a miracle to blow our minds on Easter Sunday. Lent is about change, growing and journeying, so take a minute, stand up straight, quit limping and start leaping because the amazing love of the Father is about to bust out and amaze us this week if we’re looking.
So why leap? Because this week we’ll re-live the events done out of the most magnificent and spectacular love imaginable… it’s all for love…every last tiny detail of this week illustrates his love for us. Nobody has ever or will ever do something so incredible for us, so we need to leap into it head first and soak it up; the story, the people, the details, the celebrations, the sorrow but mostly the LOVE. Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re leaping and not limping.
First, since this was all done out of love that’s the place for us to start. Love Jesus a little more this week. Since the best way to show love it so be present, that’s exactly what we need to do. Spend more time with Jesus this week. Read Scripture, pray, soak up a pod-cast, video, song or article about Holy Week each day so you can appreciate the love and leap into the happy ending on Sunday.
Second, share some love. Pick one act of love you can offer this week. Make it a tough one…consider that whole “love those who can’t love you back” or “love your neighbor” thing. Do a great act of love simply because Jesus did a big one for you.
Third, read the story! Go through the Gospel stories of the passion, death and resurrection this week. Read them slowly and let the love in the story wash over you like a warm, healing rain.
Last, just be his! Steer away from the TV and the Screens this week…just be with him. Imagine each day that you are walking with him, living the story with him and experiencing his love first hand. Give him that gift and the blessings he will return to you on Easter Sunday will leave you changed. Now; ready, set. LEAP! Have a blessed and truly HOLY Week!
A Seed To Plant: Write down and actually DO the four things above to make this a wonderful Holy Week.
Blessings on your day!
Click on the items below to expand the options available to you to explore the Joyful Words blog.