Mercy Is Like an Ocean
We have just entered into an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. We have been called to celebrate and proclaim the very heart of God.
It is hard to truly believe in mercy. If there was ever something to which the phrase “too good to be true” applies, it is the mercy of God.
Even trying to study mercy to understand what it is, what it is like, what it truly means to us, is like studying the ocean with all of its mysteries, beauty, and wonder only through the Internet without ever diving into it. We cannot truly know mercy until we let it touch every part of us, including our hearts.
Why? Because mercy is an experience, not a concept. It is an experience that heals, restores, brings freedom, and conforms us to Christ. As we begin this year, remember that no matter to what extent we have experienced it in the past, like the ocean, mercy goes deeper. It goes beyond the horizon. I would propose that we have only begun to experience the depth of Christ’s mercy. Not many of us have let the fullness of mercy penetrate the deepest parts of our own hearts.
That is why the author of Lamentations was inspired to write: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end: they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Heart to Heart
Misericordia, the Latin word for “mercy,” literally means, “to give the heart to the wretched.” That is what Jesus did: He opened His heart to the wretchedness of man. The Gospels contain a wealth of encounters, which present the misericordia of Jesus – His heart freely given to the suffering, the weak, and the sinner.
Mercy is heart to heart. We must open our hearts in order to receive His heart. This is where the Christian life can get tricky. So much of what the Father wants to come alive in our hearts gets stuck in our heads. Once it gets stuck in our heads, our enemy Satan can begin twisting it, distorting it, causing us to lose trust and give in to temptation. It happened in the Garden of Eden and has been happening in the lives of God’s children ever since. If we try to grasp mercy as a concept and not as a life-changing experience, we will miss out on the true purpose of this Jubilee.
In this Jubilee of Mercy, we need to let the reality of God’s mercy sink deep into our hearts. We need to ask God for the grace to redeem our trust in His limitless love. If you find trusting in Jesus difficult, then ask for His mercy to heal and redeem trust in your heart. He is longing to do this in each of us.
The Throne of Mercy
In the Book of Exodus, when God wanted a dwelling place for Himself, at the center was a place called the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant (which you may remember from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”). It was there that Moses would go to converse with God. The place where God’s presence rested upon the Ark was known as the Mercy Seat (see Exodus 25:17-22).
The very place where God spoke to Moses and the people of Israel was called the Mercy Seat. And the good news is God never changes – He always speaks to us from a throne of mercy. When we approach Him with our weaknesses, our wounds, and our sin, He always speaks from a place of mercy. Do not be afraid to approach Him seeking His mercy and love. It will always be there for you.
The Prodigal Father
Chapter 15 in the Gospel of Luke contains what I consider the most beautiful story ever told. A son rejects his father’s home and care, takes his inheritance, and blows it all on parties and prostitutes. He is called the Prodigal Son because “prodigal,” as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, means, “spending resources freely and recklessly.” But it also means, “having or giving something on a lavish scale.” So when the son returns and the merciful father lavishes his love and forgiveness upon his son – even throwing a party to celebrate his return – he becomes even more prodigal.
In the parable, the father runs to his son and kisses him repeatedly. He must celebrate because as the father puts it so simply, “This son of mine was dead but now he is alive.” That is the truth of our sin – it does not make us unloved by God, it kills us. But God NEVER stops loving us. His mercy is what brings us back to life after we fall in sin. All the son had to do was turn back to God and mercy did the rest.
No Limits, No Boundaries, No Prejudice
Jesus demonstrates this lavish prodigal love as He hangs on the Cross. A thief, after a life of sin, turns to Jesus in a moment of faith, asks that Jesus remember him, and becomes the first saint. That is power of mercy! It can change the worst sinner into a saint.
Christ’s mercy has no limits, no boundaries, and no prejudices. Neither can ours. As we celebrate Christ’s mercy, let us to ask for the grace to see others as Christ sees them. We need to see the love Jesus has for every person and to bring them the mercy of the Father. If we take this year to grow in mercy, we will become more like Jesus and change the world. God bless.