Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Lord is Close to the Brokenhearted - Mercy Meditation for Oct. 23, 2016

“The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds…"

Sir 35:21

 We all experience times when we feel unworthy, alone, or hopeless, but the comforting words of today’s Scripture assure us that our humble cry for God’s help pierces the clouds of heaven. The Lord is close to the lowly, the brokenhearted; so close that He hears every beat of our heart and every whispered prayer.

The message of Divine Mercy is enfolded in the story of the tax collector and the Pharisee. God sees our hearts, none of us perfect, and desires our repentance. God surely loves the Pharisee as much as he loves the repentant tax collector, but as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his book Jesus of Nazareth:

“The Pharisee does not really look at God at all, but only at himself; he does not really need God, because he does everything right by himself.  He has no real relation to God, who is ultimately superfluous – what he does himself is enough. Man makes himself righteous.”

“The tax collector, by contrast,” Pope Benedict continues, “sees himself in the light of God. He has looked toward God, and in the process his eyes have been opened to see himself… He knows that he needs mercy and so he will learn from God’s mercy to become merciful himself, and thereby to become like God… he will always need the gift of goodness, of forgiveness, but in receiving it he will always learn to pass the gift on to others. The grace for which he prays does not dispense him from ethics. It is what makes him truly good in the first place. He needs God, and because he recognizes that, he begins through God’s goodness to become good himself.”

When we repent of our sins from the heart, God’s mercy knows no limits. Trust in God, humbly ask for His mercy, and pass the precious gift of forgiveness on to others.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Saint for Those Who Suffer From Loneliness, Abandonment and Despair

My article for the National Catholic Register, September 4th, 2016,
on the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta,
"A Light Amid the Darkness"
is linked below.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pray Without Ceasing - Mercy Meditation for Oct. 16, 2016

“…when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

Today’s readings teach us the importance of persistent prayer and faithful trust. Moses trusted in God’s help on the day of battle, yet he knew he had a part to play as well. He kept his arms raised in constant prayer. Even when he became tired, Moses did not give up but continued with the help of his faithful friends. God heard their prayers and came to their aid with great power, in accordance with their efforts and their faith in Him.

The parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow also points to the need for our constant efforts and perseverance in prayer. The widow’s persistence wore down even the unjust judge; if we believe that our appeals are heard by the Merciful God, we should pray even more tirelessly than this widow did, trusting the Just Judge, to hear and answer our prayers. Like a good parent, God may not give us exactly what we ask for, but He will always care for us, often surprising us with much more than we expected.

Jesus’s parable, like all Scripture, is meant to teach us something. As Jesus tells us again and again, God can act without our efforts, but He allows us to decide, invite, ask, seek, and trust in Him. Our actions, our prayers, and our faith make all the difference.

Trust in God’s plan for your ultimate good. Pray without ceasing, entrusting all the desires of your heart to the Merciful Lord with great faith and without hesitation.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Grace and Gratitude - Mercy Meditation for Oct. 9th, 2016

“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” 

Today’s readings include two stories about healing. Namaan, a foreigner from Aram, an enemy of Israel, comes to Israel to find healing for his leprosy, and is cured by washing in the Jordan according to the instructions of the prophet Elijah. Namaan expresses his great gratitude, pledging to worship only the God of Israel from that moment on.

In the Gospel reading, ten lepers call out to Jesus, begging him to have mercy on them. These men are desperate, isolated and alone, outcast because of their disease. He sends them to the priest, the one who must certify their healing and readmit them to the community. Once on their way, they discover they are healed. But only the Samaritan, a foreigner, returns to offer his gratitude to Jesus.

Our prayers are often most fervent when we are in desperate situations. When in need, we cry out to God for His mercy day and night, begging as the lepers did, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Yet when we receive an answer to prayer - when our illness subsides, our needs are fulfilled, our emergencies end - do we continue to pray with the same dedication and fervor, expressing our gratitude, love, and faith to the God who came to our aid in our great need?

I’m afraid I am often guilty of being one of “the nine” that failed to return. In times of need, I spend hours offering prayers and petitions, while in better times, I often hurry through my day with hardly a thought of the Lord’s gracious mercy, taking this tremendous gift for granted. Perhaps this is why these two stories focus on the gratitude offered by foreigners. For these foreigners, who have newly discovered the merciful love of our God who heals, amazement and appreciation overflows.

Let us, who are blessed to be members of God’s own family, always remember to return and give thanks for His gracious mercy and love.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Jesus, I Trust in You - Mercy Meditation for Oct. 2, 2016

“Jesus, I trust in You.”


The message proclaimed at Mass today is one of total trust in God. God has given us the gifts of the Holy Spirit and has provided us with a spirit of courage, power, love, and self-control. Jesus promises that with even the smallest amount of faith – the size of a mustard seed – all things are possible.

We, His servants, must trust fully in God, knowing that He Himself will empower us to accomplish whatever work He has called us to do. Depend fully on His strength to “stir into flame the gift of God that you have” been given. Are you the parent of a difficult child? Trust that God chose this child for you, and will provide you with the ability to guide him with love. Are you suffering from illness? Trust Him to help you to “bear this hardship with the strength that comes from God.” Is there conflict in your family or at your workplace? Turn to God in faith to provide you with the “power and love and self-control” to bring peace to your difficult situation.

Jesus knew that His disciples, often weak in their faith, would allow their fears to overwhelm them. He wanted to be sure they knew – and that we still know – about His infinite mercy. It isn’t all up to us. We just have to do our little tasks with great love, trusting in Him to provide the courage and strength we need. Whenever the work before you seems too heavy and difficult, turn to Him and entrust all your cares to Him, saying, “Jesus, I trust in You.”

Let us have faith in His infinite mercy, and always “guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.”  


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jesus's Distressing Disguise - Mercy Meditation, Sept. 25th, 2016

via Wikipedia Commons

At the hour of death when we come face-to-face with God, we are going to be judged on love; not how much we have done, but how much love we put into the doing.
― Mother Teresa

Today’s Gospel reading reminds me of our newest Catholic saint, St. Teresa of Calcutta. She spent her life lifting “Lazarus” out of the gutter, providing tender care for the poor, the sick and the dying. She was motivated always by her great love for Jesus, “in His distressing disguise,” saying, “When we touch the sick and needy, we touch the suffering Body of Christ.”

Yet this little saint of the poor spoke often of another kind of poverty. She knew that the greatest gift she could give to the abandoned and the poor was the gift of love. She reminded us that the lack of love was the greatest poverty, and she recognized that this poverty afflicted even the rich, saying, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for... There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

The place to begin to serve the poor is in our own homes and families; wherever God has placed us. The poverty we encounter there may not be physical but spiritual. For many of us in affluent America, this is where we must reach out with the love of God: to the lonely, the lost, the addict, the young woman facing a crisis pregnancy, our elderly neighbor living alone. Mother Teresa reminds us, “There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.”


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Renewed by Merciful Love - Mercy Meditation for Sept. 11, 2016

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord.” -Psalm 51:12

The word “create” in Psalm 51 is the same word found in the creation story in Genesis. In Christ, we have the chance to be recreated, made new, washed clean of sin, just as we were originally created by God before the fall. We are reborn! The free and gracious gift of forgiveness and redemption has been won for us by Christ’s victory over sin and death.

But there’s more to it; there is the part we sometimes forget to talk about – what we must do to be ready for this awesome and undeserved gift. That is repentance.  

David repented of his sin against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah before composing the beautiful psalm that is sung today, the Miserere. Paul repented of his past role in the persecution of Christians after his experience on the road to Damascus. He never takes credit for his own salvation, always remembering the merciful love of God that transformed him into a disciple of Christ. With mercy and gentleness, Jesus seeks out the lost and calls the sinner to repentance, conversion, and discipleship.

The longer version of today’s reading includes the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son: a story of hope, unconditional love, and restoration. But it is important to realize that the Father did not go out to find his son in the pigpen, although he may have wanted to. It was only when the son changed his heart, repented, and resolved to return and beg forgiveness that the Father ran to meet him, welcoming him home with rejoicing.

Jesus longs for our return, but He will not force us to accept His mercy and love. He calls our names and invites us to the feast. Listen for His invitation and turn back to the Lord; you, too, are invited to the banquet. Turn, and enter into the joy.