Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Infinite Mercy of God

This Sunday’s gospel focuses on the infinite love and mercy of God. To communicate the radical nature of God’s mercy, Jesus uses three parables. To the hearer, there is an obvious disproportional nature to these stories: why in the world would the shepherd leave the ninety-nine to go after the one? Why would the woman throw a party after finding one lost coin, a party that would cost her more than one coin to host?! How could the father forgive and forget after such a slap in the face by his son? The point is clear: The Lord desires that every single person know the depths of his love and mercy. No sin is greater than God’s mercy, and no sinner is beyond the reach of his mercy. The Lord is always willing to forgive.

One of the most humbling aspects of the priesthood is hearing confessions and dispensing God’s mercy in this wonderful sacrament. It is simply amazing to know that I am acting as a minister of the Lord’s forgiveness, that I am an instrument of his divine mercy and healing. For priests, the gospel this weekend connects on the deepest level: we are called to bring his mercy to the one who is lost; we are called to proclaim his mercy and to invite people, especially those who feel unforgivable, into the loving and merciful embrace of God.

If you are a man discerning a call to the priesthood, it is important that you be attentive to the deep desires of your heart: do you desire to make people aware of the infinite love and mercy of the Lord? Do you desire to be an instrument of healing and reconciliation in peoples’ lives? Can you envision yourself hearing peoples’ confessions? Do you want to pass on to others the love and mercy that the Lord has shown to you?

Regardless of what our vocation is, we should all be grateful for the infinite mercy of the Lord. He loves us infinitely and unconditionally.