You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
to give His people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
~ Canticle of Zechariah ~
God is rich in mercy, because of the great love He has for us. Ephesians 2:4
For our Mary's Mantle staff retreat yesterday, we began with a walk through the Holy Doors of Mercy pilgrimage at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. It seems that theme of mercy would follow me into my morning prayer as I sat with the Magnificat in what may be the only quiet moments of my day.
I am not always good about praying the morning prayer, but the rhythm and prayers are familiar to me. They risk becoming too familiar, as my tongue rolls over the words to move on to the next prayer. This morning, as I sipped on coffee that had not yet become lukewarm, I forced myself to stop and truly pray the words of the prayers, to let them seep into my heart, to simply be with them for a moment.
These words from the Canticle of Zechariah struck my heart in a new and profound way. Perhaps it is a result of the grace from entering through the Holy Doors yesterday, or perhaps there really is magic found in a cup of coffee that is still hot. The Holy Spirit pierced my heart with this thought - we prepare hearts for Jesus by giving people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. We prepare people to receive Jesus when He comes to them by sharing with them the freedom of God's mercy, which flows from His great love.
Cue the current state of world affairs and the temptation to shout down the devil. It seems we have forgotten what Pope Francis wishes to remind us in this Year of Mercy. No one - not one human being - is outside the scope of God's mercy. It is available to each and every one of us. Our job, as prophets of the Most High, is to lead people into that great love and mercy.
I am so saddened by the tone of discourse that has shaped this current political season. So many people I know, love, and esteem - people who have been agents of God's mercy and love in my own life - have fallen prey to demonizing others. It is no secret, I hope, that I find both leading party candidates unsuitable for office. They are, however, created in the image and likeness of God. They are not the devil, no matter how much they are behaving as his stooge. No matter how far away from the divine image they now appear, it is my job to be an emissary of Christ and bring them to his merciful love.
Certainly, there must be repentance and a choice to walk through the door, and that burden lies on them alone. We must, however, as Christian disciples, not lose sight of the fact that our burden is to remind them of their dignity when they have clearly forgotten. Our burden is not to resort to the calling of names no matter the sins of others. They will have to answer for their sins, and we for ours.
In fact, I am going to go so far as to say that when another person behaves in a reprehensible fashion, when what they stand for goes against the heart of God, it is then that we are called to love even more courageously. It is then that we are called to remind them that they are made for greater things. It is precisely those who stand for what we deplore who most need our love and mercy.
‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36
There are only a few days left until the election. As much as I want to hope the tension will abate after the polls close, I fear that this is only the beginning. Let's take a note from St. Luke on this his feast day and remember that in these times, we are prophets of the Most High, declaring a love that defies all understanding. We cling to hope in the One who has already conquered the world. We stand firm being led by the Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We are ambassadors of Christ, and to Him every life is sacred and soul is preciously worth saving . . . even the ones that seem the darkest. Let's not forget that He would leave us all behind to rescue that one.
Now, go out there and LOVE friends, LOVE. Let's not let our love for one soul cloud our love for all souls. Jesus thirsts for them all.
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