We must be clear about something, following Christ and living his merciful Gospel is to embark on a radical, challenging and constantly life changing journey that calls for us to grasp the briar of sin and to wear its thorns on our heads as we pick up our cross and follow Him.
The dreadful events in Orlando last weekend were and continue to be horrific. No one, no matter their race, religion, sex or sexuality deserves to be killed or to be on the receiving end of any prejudice or hatred…no one…ever…period. Paul’s letter to the Galatians makes this very clear, we must not compartmentalize people. All differences fall away and barriers come down between people because of the Christ Event. The death and rising of the Son of God has set a new agenda for the world and given us the new modus operandi…and it is mercy.
Mercy is tough. As I have said before, Misericordia, the outpouring of heart into the misery and suffering of others, is how we best respond to the world; it is God’s response in and through us. So it is not sufficient to just to say “I am sorry for your loss” – though we may be, nor simply say “I hold you in my heart” – though we surely do, nor just, “I’ll pray for you” – though we must. When we mercifully engage with another our hearts too must change, must develop, grow, deepen, beat harder. In our response to this horrific violence we must also ask, “has my heart been a little lukewarm because the majority of the victims happened to be part of a community that I may in my ignorance have some prejudice against? Has another ventricle of my heart hardened against Muslims because of this mad man’s actions?
Mercy-ing must change our life as it outpours to another’s. Let us not allow such a horrific event to subtly and insidiously harden our hearts in certain directions when we are pouring out our mercy in another. I believe we are a great community of mercy in this parish, as witnessed by the excellent presentations by various parishioners at last Monday’s Mercy and Ministry reflection evening. All of the presenters, and all involved in corporal and spiritual works of mercy, know that as you mercy your heart grows and becomes ever more inclusive of all; especially those we find difficult, those we don’t understand, and those with whom we might not want to associate. If our mercy-ing does not expand our heart for the world then we are being half-hearted in our vocation to be the image of God in the world whose face is mercy.
God bless you, your families, and the week ahead.
Fr. Aidan Peter, CJ