Grace to you!
Of all the attributes of God, mercy shocks many. It confronts with glaring contrast and sometimes with unease.
Some see many of the stories of mercy in Scripture as unfair. It is not so with God, who is mercy itself.
Using many parables, the Blessed Lord emphasizes the abundant mercy of God. Remember the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32). The faithful son was upset with his father for being merciful to his brother, the prodigal child. The woman caught in the act of committing adultery (Jn 8:1-11) is another example. The judgmental Pharisees were scandalized that the Blessed Lord Jesus was not so quick to condemn the woman but to show compassion.
The story of Jesus' relationship with Mathew (the call of Matthew) and other tax collectors (Mt 9:9-13) is yet another reference. The onlookers doubted if Jesus was a holy person because "he dined with sinners." Do I need to mention the call of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10)? Instances abound.
Over and over again, the mercy of God confronts us with glaring contrast. The parable of the landowner who hired people to work in his vineyard at different hours but paid each the same wage (Mt 20:1-16), is another example of God's mercy, as it also shows the paradox of divine justice. Those who came early, and probably worked eight hours, were justly paid for all the hours they put in. Before the close of work, those hired at the last hour were equally paid the same amount as those who worked "eight hours." This sort of reward was scandalous to those who worked more hours because they thought God was unfair. Was God unfair?
The explanation of this kind of Justice of God, a justice of charity (Pope Benedict XVI) and mercy, is that God has the right to use his treasure any way he wanted. Does God, whose name is mercy, not have the right to show mercy to whom and how he pleases? This example is a good message for all those who question the mercy of God. It is also good for those who bask in their birthright's security to heaven, such as those Pharisees, to whom Jesus first addressed this parable.
Here is the lesson: the ultimate reward we desire is eternal life in God, to see God face to face. It doesn't matter who began the heavenly race earlier and who began late. Each will receive the same reward. What's important is to be at the duty post for the hiring. As Scripture says, "Seek the Lord while he may be found" (Is 55:6); that is, when we're still alive. Be ready to accept divine invitation whenever and however it comes calling. He or she who comes first like a creedal Catholic or who comes last like the thief on the right-hand side of Jesus during the crucifixion, would receive the same reward—heaven (beatific vision). The heavenly prize is not dependent on when one started, but how faithful.
If this is how God treats us, shouldn't it also influence how we relate with one another as children of God? Mercy loses its glory if it is merited. No one merits mercy; this is why it's called mercy. If we are waiting for someone who has offended us to deserve mercy, we may not have realized what true mercy is.
Forgiveness is a fraction of mercy. Mercy encompasses much more because mercy goes beyond forgiveness and sometimes overlooks the protocols of forgiveness. That is why it seems scandalous to many. True mercy is the Blessed Lord dying for us while we were sinners. It's love. It's mercy.
Ask yourself: Do you deserve divine mercy?
Mercy is God granting us grace to see him. No one could see God if not by his mercy and love, which is also grace. Grace is mercy granting our unworthy selves to be enraptured in the glory of divine love and life through the gift of faith the Blessed Lord has given us.
This week, how about we live mercy and show mercy? How about we become instruments of Divine Mercy for a wounded heart and a wounded world?
Most Merciful Lord, grant me the grace to live and show mercy. Amen. Please make me a disciple of your mercy and compassion. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Sunday Week 25 A: Is 55:6-9: Phil 1:20-24, 27; Mt 20:1-16]
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Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.