How have you Responded to God's Mercy?

10-30-2016Weekly Reflections

Last Sunday's Gospel gave us a tax collector's beautiful prayer to take with us from this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Today, another tax collector's encounter with Jesus offers a comforting memory to cherish, but also a challenging mission to embrace. Zacchaeus' short stature (see Luke 19:3) matched how contemptible, socially and spiritually, Zacchaeus' religious acquaintances considered tax collectors to be. Jesus counters that judgment with mercy. Radical sin meets unmerited grace. God seeks and finds the lost; a sinner's home becomes salvation's house. The sinner "quickly" welcomes salvation "with joy" (19:6), while the righteous grumble judgmentally at God's mercy. Mercy challenges us, too. Like Zacchaeus, we have been sought and found by Jesus, called by name to welcome Jesus into our heart's home. Therefore, we must go forth from this Jubilee Year of Mercy as "missionaries of mercy," seeking our fellow sinners with Jesus, receiving them with joy (see 19:6) as cherished brothers and sisters, and joyfully offering our judgment-free hospitality as Jesus' own "Welcome home!"

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

READ MORE

O God, be Merciful to me a Sinner

10-23-2016Weekly Reflections

Today's Gospel graces us with a beautiful prayer that can make every day of our lives a jubilee of mercy: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13). Religious Israelites despised the tax collector who prayed it, for collaborating with Gentile occupiers and handling currency that bore the "divine" emperor's graven image. But the Pharisee's long-winded self-congratulation, mixed with self-righteous condemnation, was no "prayer" at all. "The Pharisee…spoke this prayer to himself" (18:11, emphasis added). Praying the tax collector's simple, sincere, succinct cry for mercy acknowledges our own sinfulness, and "welcomes" other sinners as brothers and sisters with whom we can identify, even empathize, echoing Pope Francis' famous comment about not being the one to judge. Indeed, the tax collector "went home justified" (18:14), that is, restored to God's friendship, for God's mercy is not prize achieved but gift received. "Let your prayer be brief: for tax collector, prodigal son, and dying thief were all reconciled to God by a single phrase!"(Saint John Climacus, 7th century).

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

READ MORE

Be Persistent in Prayer

10-16-2016Weekly Reflections

Though Jesus told today's parable more than two thousand years ago, human nature hasn't changed: we recognize both characters instantly. The merciless judge represents the corruption that has short-circuited justice throughout history; the distraught widow, society's perennially powerless, marginalized to what Pope Francis calls the "peripheries" by those who wield power but lack the mercy that could transfigure society with compassion. To confront such reality, Jesus bids us, "pray always without becoming weary" (Luke 18:1). Prayer opens our eyes to see others from Jesus' perspective, and leads us to work for justice by coming to the aid of others with what Pope Francis extols as a higher standard, mercy. Thus, when Jesus asks, "Will not God secure the rights of God's chosen ones? Will God be slow to answer?" (18:7). We respond by making God's liberating work for others our own. "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (18:8). Yes, we respond—and mercy!

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

READ MORE

Make 'Unconditional Mercy' your Daily Goal

10-09-2016Weekly Reflections

This weekend, the Jubilee honors Mary under the title Pope Francis suggests, "Mother of Mercy". Recall the Good Samaritan Gospel. Priest and Levite saw suffering but showed no mercy. Recall the rich man, who never saw Lazarus right before his eyes, and showed no mercy. Today, Jesus sees ten lepers from afar and shows extraordinary mercy. Mary's entire life, declares Francis, was modeled on Jesus, "Mercy-Made-Flesh." Indeed, standing at the cross, Mary saw Jesus' mercy take flesh when Jesus showed mercy to the executioners. So Pope Francis recommends we frequently pray the Salve Regina, Hail, Holy Queen, asking her to ever look upon us with mercy, so that we might be worthy to gaze upon the face of her merciful Son Jesus. May we do so not only in eternity, but here and now, opening our eyes to see Jesus in others, and our hearts to serve Jesus in others by loving deeds of unconditional mercy.

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

READ MORE

Respect Life

10-02-2016All

How long, O Lord?" (Habakkuk 1:2). With Habakkuk's question echoing across twenty-six hundred years, Respect Life Sunday finds all life claiming sanctuary in our hearts: unborn infant, senior citizen, immigrant and refugee, imprisoned and addicted, people burdened with illness and disabilities of body, mind, or spirit. Even Mother Earth, Pope Francis notes in Laudato Si', bears scars of disrespect for the life she nurtures and sustains. Life is still threatened, as in Habakkuk's day, with ruin and misery, "destruction and violence,...strife and clamorous discord" (see 1:3). Since our efforts so often seem ineffective, we "unprofitable servants" cry with the apostles, "Increase our faith" (Luke 17:10, 5). But Jesus' reply might be paraphrased, "Not quantity—quality."

Next weekend marks the Jubilee Year of Mercy's special devotion to Mary, whose willingness to shelter Jesus in her womb and stand at the foot of his cross bears witness to the qualities that Jesus expects our faith to manifest: the willingness to trust, to risk, and to dare to speak up for life.

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

READ MORE