Invite the Poor, Crippled, Lame and Blind

08-28-2016Weekly Reflections

"Alms atone for sins" (Sirach 2:29). Alms are mercy translated into hands-on compassion. Jesus confirms Sirach's wisdom, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7). "Conduct your affairs with humility" (Sirach 3:17). Humility: we're all alike and special, for we're children of God. Jesus confirms that wisdom, too: "Do not recline at table in the place of honor. Take the lowest place" (Luke 14:8, 10). In fact, "When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite friends, relatives, wealthy neighbors. Invite the poor, crippled, lame, blind," physically or figuratively, society's most vulnerable and marginalized, "who cannot repay you" (see 14:12–14). Jesus seems to be telling us to prepare for eternity with God's chosen by becoming their friend here and now. Mercy is measured not by our delight in welcoming those we like most or who can repay us best, but by sincerely embracing those we like least, who cannot repay us at all. Utter humility inspires pure mercy; pure mercy leads to eternal joy.

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

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Will I be Saved?

08-21-2016Weekly Reflections

This Jubilee Year of Mercy and Pope Francis' ministry have renewed our understanding that the Church's heart is open wide to all, and the heart of the gospel is God's mercy. Flooded with God's mercy, our hearts should overflow as channels bringing to wounded and weary hearts Jesus' healing mercy. For Jesus warns, our own salvation is not guaranteed by the Liturgy of the Word ("you taught in our streets") nor by the Eucharist ("we ate and drank in your company") (Luke 13:26). People far from that banquet, "from the east and the west and from the north and the south . . . will recline at table in the kingdom of God" (13:29). Rather, showing mercy is key to obtaining mercy ourselves (Matthew 5:7). So we should never dare ask what "someone" asked Jesus, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" (Luke 13:23). The crucial question is "Will I be saved?" And Jesus' answer is another question: "Have you shown mercy to everyone, freely, gladly, no limits, no conditions, no exceptions?"

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

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Share Mercy

08-14-2016Weekly Reflections

This Jubilee Year of Mercy bids us share our own experience of Jesus' mercy with those on what Pope Francis calls the "peripheries"—people who feel marginalized, even unwelcome—inviting them to come home. But with all this mercy, why today's mayhem? "Do you think I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division" (Lk 12:51). Jesus "breaks down" those "breakups" in painful detail—parents, children, even in-laws. "Against" appears eight times in five verses. Jeremiah faced death for bearing witness (Jer 38:4). Can't we bear at least a small share of the sometimes merciless cost of sharing mercy? The Letter to the Hebrews warns us, keep your "eyes fixed on Jesus" and "so great a cloud of witnesses," lest we "grow weary and lose heart" as we run "the race that lies before us" (Heb 12:1–3). After all, "for the sake of the joy that lay before him," Jesus "endured the cross" (12:2). Can't we endure our small crosses for the sake of sharing mercy?

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

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Be Vigilant and Faithful Servants

08-07-2016Weekly Reflections

"Last Sunday's "Parable of the rich fool" delivered a compelling reason to do the right thing—now: "You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you" (Luke 12:20). Today, Jesus warns us: "You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come" (12:40). Though we do not know when our Master will come, we do know what our Master expects to find. Jesus expects us to be vigilant (12:37) and diligent (12:42) in our work for the kingdom, but also filled with reverent mercy toward our fellow servants and ourselves. Hopefully, Jesus' warning not to get drunk and beat each other up (12:45) does not apply to us literally! But what changes do I need to make, right now, so that the many people outside "the Master's house" will want to come inside to experience the healing comfort of Jesus' own mercy in the compassion of Jesus' modern-day disciples?

—Peter Scagnelli, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.

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