Grace to you!
Of all the attributes of God, mercy shocks. It confronts with glaring contrast and sometimes with unease.
Many of the stories of mercy in Scripture are seen by some of those who aren’t their beneficiaries as unfair, but not with God who is mercy itself.
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 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 an example of the mercy of God too as it also shows the paradox of His justice. Those who came early, and probably worked 8 hours, were justly paid for all the hours they put in. Those who were hired at the last hour, before the close of work, were equally paid the same amount as with 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 He 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? Good message for all those who question the mercy of God. Equally good for those who bask in the security of their birthright to heaven such as the Pharisees to whom Jesus first addressed this parable.
Here is the lesson: the ultimate reward that we desire is heaven, 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 he or she who comes last like the thief on the right hand side of Jesus during the crucifixion, would receive the same reward—heaven (beatific vision).
If this is how God treats us, shouldn’t it also influence the way 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. So, if we are waiting for someone who has offended us to merit 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. This is why it seems scandalous to many. True mercy is Jesus dying for us while we were sinners. It's love. It's 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 He has given us.
Thus, in the course of 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.
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]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.