God does not create rubbish … to love God means to be Merciful to what God has created
There’s a danger that today’s readings may simply be seen as a reminder of God’s mercy for us and the need for us to show mercy to others… or else! Ha, ha.
But there’s a deeper and more important question we need to ask and answer, which is very important at this time in our world: why show mercy to anyone?
We have endured – and continue to battle – child abuse in many forms. Currently, the world faces a very dangerous few years with the war in Ukraine and high tensions around Taiwan. Then, the availability of abortion and introduction of euthanasia is increasing = culture of death.
The war in Ukraine has revealed cruel treatment of people – especially ordinary people. How can we show mercy for many of the evil actions committed through abuse and war?
Someone in Kenya said recently, “God should destroy us all and start again!” However, the first reading reveals the answer: “For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.” = all people are good.
Such a simple statement, but it should knock the wind out of us: we must show mercy because each person is God’s creation, and nothing is bad. At times we might act badly, but that is different to our value. We don’t throw away a car being driven badly: we re-train the driver.
That’s why rehabilitation programmes are important in our prison systems. The person is valued and empowered. How about in our families?; work places?; Church?; Schools?; do we have helpful ways of showing mercy to those who act badly? Mercy= rehabilitation.
In our Court systems, we often hear people sentenced to Community Service for some hours. In other words, showing mercy is more than mere words: it requires concrete actions, so that St Paul’s prayer might come true: “…powerfully bring to fulfilment every good purpose and every effort of faith.” Good purposes and efforts of faith reveal the dignity of men and women.
How do we do that? The Gospel reveals some key guidelines to help us adapt to real situations:
- “Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.” But then,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”
The first step is to interrupt our schedules and make time to empower others.
- “Zaccheus was seeking to see who Jesus was.” Are we also looking deep enough to find the real Jesus = daily meditation and bible readings; and volunteering to help others.
- “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” There can be no transformation without spending time with the person: “…because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”
Long ago, in an Indian village, lived a Weaver who was very calm, humble and loyal by nature. People around knew that he never became angry. So, one day, some boys decided to play a prank on the Weaver to make him angry. One of the boys came from a wealthy family. He went ahead and pointed toward a beautiful shirt and said, “what’s the cost of this?”
The Weaver replied, “$100.” The boy took the shirt and cut it into two. He picked one half and said, “I don’t want the whole shirt, I only want half. How much will it cost?” The Weaver replied calmly, “$50.” Now, the Boy took one half and cut it in two. He took a quarter and asked again, “I don’t even want half; how much will this piece cost?” The Weaver replied, “$25.” The Boy cut the shirt again and said, “I don’t want this shirt anymore, it’s useless.”
The Weaver replied, “Boy, it’s not only useless to you, it’s of no use to anybody, now.” The Boy suddenly felt ashamed and said, “I made a loss to you. Let me pay full price.” The Weaver said, “If you didn’t take the shirt, how can I take money from you?” Then, the Boy’s pride was hurt and he said, “I am rich, you are poor. If I pay you it won’t hurt me. You have to face this loss because of me, so please let me pay for it.” The Weaver smiled and said, “You can’t compensate for the loss. Just think of how much hard work a farmer did to grow the cotton. Then another person did hard work to make threads from cotton, and then I coloured those threads and weaved this shirt. This hard work can only be successful when someone wears it, benefits from it, and uses it. Can a few dollars compensate this loss?”
The voice of the weaver showed kindness instead of resentment. The Boy became ashamed of his act and, with tears in his eyes, asked for forgiveness. The Weaver lovingly asked him to get up, patted his back and said, “Boy, if I had taken money from you then it could have worked for me, but your life could have turned into ‘a piece’ the same as you did with the shirt. I lost one shirt, I can make it again, but once your life is destroyed because of your ego, from where will you bring another? Your repentance is precious to me.”
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” If we are followers of Christ, we too must do the same. The reward will be a more peaceful community/ nation.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI