It has been 2 1/2 years since I have posted an entry on my blog, for reasons I might some day reveal. Some folks have asked me to start it up again, so here goes! This entry is a reflection on the lectionary readings of Sunday, February 7, 2015. I have to write them out anyway to translate them to Spanish, so I'll probably share them in this way from time to time. I will also pst on face book when I have a new one. Thanks for your interest!
Unclean, Unworthy and Sinful Lips
Isaiah said: I am a man of unclean lips. He was right.
Paul said: I am the least of the apostles and not worthy to be called an apostle. He was right.
Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. He was right.
These three men knew who they were, and they thought that because of who they were they were unworthy to be in the presence of God and to do what God had asked of them. But what they learned is that worthiness has nothing to do with gods love. No one is worthy. God loves everyone, Regardless of his or her sin.
We all know that we are sinners. Perhaps like Adam and Eve we want to hide ourselves in shame. But that is not what God wants. God is love, and so God must love. We were created to be one with God, so God will do everything God can do to make us one. It is up to us whether or not to cooperate.
When the angel touched Isaiah’s lips, that did not make Isaiah worthy. When Paul was knocked off of the horse and converted, that did not make Paul worthy. When Peter was told to get up and follow Jesús, that did not mean that Peter had become worthy. Rather, for all three, it meant that they were ready to do what God asked of them. God wants us as we are.
This is the year of mercy. Lent starts this week. Normally in Lent we give something up, like television or dessert or candy. But Pope Francis is asking us this year to not give anything up. Rather he is asking us to grow in being merciful. He is asking us to practice ways to accept God’s mercy toward us and to learn how to show that mercy to others.
Psychologists say that it takes about six weeks to change a habit or to learn a new one. Lent is six weeks long. So if we are faithful and thorough, by Easter we should know mercy. We should know how to love regardless of circumstances. We should know how to forgive and free ourselves of grudges. We should know that worthiness is not a requirement for love or mercy.
We know that ours is not a world of mercy. Listen to the politicians. Some want to keep out the stranger, some want to kill everybody who might belong to a group that includes people we fear. Some want to show mercy only to the richest of people. Ours is not a world of mercy.
But we don’t have to be formed by that world. We can spend the period of lent learning how to live in the world of mercy and love. We can practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We pray for and, if we can, visit the sick and imprisoned. We play some role in feeding the hungry. We welcome the stranger.
If we are faithful to this task during lunch, then by Easter we will rise with Christ as people of mercy. We may not receive mercy in return from those to whom we show it, but we will be assured that God’s love and mercy will always be with us.
THERE ARE SEVEN CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Shelter the homeless
- Visit the sick
- Visit the imprisoned
- Bury the dead
THERE ARE SEVEN SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY
- Admonish the sinner
- Instruct the ignorant
- Counsel the doubtful
- Bear wrongs patiently
- Forgive offenses willingly
- Comfort the afflicted
- Pray for the living and the dead