Becoming living witnesses to God’s compassion

Last Monday night a series of presentations and discussions began in our parish which will run during this season of Lent to reflect on the meaning of mercy.

Last Monday night a series of presentations and discussions began in our parish which will run during this season of Lent to reflect on the meaning of mercy.

In particular 2016 has been designated a Holy Year to celebrate the great and unlimited mercy of God. The series of Monday night discussions are based on a series of eight short books by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation. The opening night focused on two of the books; the first entitled ‘Celebrating Mercy’ and the second ‘The Psalms of Mercy’. After Fr Sean’s presentation on Monday night I was left with much food for thought. The points raised enabled me to understand the scene of the Transfiguration of Christ in a new light. After Jesus having revealed his glory on the mountain to his closest companions, we hear a voice announcing from the midst of the cloud asking us to listen to Jesus because he is God’s chosen Son.

To become solely caught up in the brilliance of this extraordinary event misses the true point of the episode. Jesus revealed his true face and his innermost nature to his disciples to bring about a change of heart, a conversion which was to transform the manner of their lives. During this Year of Mercy what we’re asked to discover imprinted on the face of Christ is mercy. Journeying through this holy season of Lent we’re called to give witness to the merciful face of God. Like the disciples on the mountain we have to come back down and return to our daily lives and become living witnesses to God’s compassion. This is the path of conversion we’re challenged to walk. What we discover in the heart of Jesus is the seat of the Father’s mercy; this is the true nature of God. To become Christ like, to be a child of the Father’s means to be merciful. We know if we are in a real relationship with Christ if we have been transformed by his compassion we in turn become compassionate to those we encounter in our lives.

From the parables which Jesus uses to teach his disciples we learn that to be compassionate and merciful requires more than feelings. True mercy and compassion is an action which leads to true care of the other person. By his sacrifice on the Cross Jesus reveals the ultimate depths of God’s mercy for the world. True mercy is being generous and loving enough to make sacrifices for the good of others. To understand God’s compassion more fully we need to become familiar with his word. Reading the Book of the Psalms we see reflected the whole landscape of human experience, birth and death, suffering of sickness, the pain of abandonment, war and peace, loneliness and the search of God. We are also introduced to God’s merciful action, who like a mother is a God of all tenderness, grace, mercy, forgiveness and steadfast love. God’s motherhood reveals a mercy which dwells in the womb, hence mercy is like giving birth. So when we too bring forth mercy is it like bringing new life into the world.