2 Samuel 12:7-10,13; Ps 32:1-2, 5,7,11; Galatians 2:16, 19-21; Luke 7:36-50
The first and gospel stories today are expressions of God’s mercy and forgiveness for the humans he created. This mercy is completely unmerited. God’s love or mercy is a theme throughout the Bible.
The Hebrew word is hesed. It is translated mercy except in most modern English Bibles. Scholars feel mercy is unfortunate, yet no single word is adequate. There are divine and human elements involved. We can look at other words with hesed to have a better understanding. God pours out his hesed on us. We are dependent on it and don’t deserve it. It involves his love and forgiveness of our sins and unfaithfulness toward him.
We can see this in King David’s lust for the wife of Uriah. David had all he ever needed. Yet intercourse and pregnancy with Uriah’s wife led David to have Uriah killed to cover us his first sin. Nathan pointed out David’s sin. David repented and God forgave him and did not kill him.
Luke’s gospel story also embraces an extreme forgiveness story. Jesus went to the home of Simon, a Pharisee who did not give the normal Hebrew greetings. A very sinful woman came into Simon’s house. She bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair and anointed his feet with ointment. Jesus forgave all of her sins.
This merciful love of Jesus continues even today. Jesus and his mother have come back to earth many times to remind us of his merciful love. We are all sinners yet hopefully not to the extent of the persons in the stories today. As we have and continue to receive God’s forgiveness, we are to extend that to those around us. Jesus said in Matthew’s gospel that whatever you do to the least, you do to him.
Our faith in Jesus will save us no matter how bad our sins have been. We just ask for forgiveness and use the church sacraments Jesus left us. Jesus again reminded us of his mercy when he appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in France with the 9 First Friday devotions. Then 300 years later in Poland, he appeared to St. Faustina in the 1930s with the Divine Mercy devotions with a new picture with his right hand raised in blessing and red and pale rays streaming from his heart. Jesus said the rays are the blood and water from his merciful heart on the cross. These rays are highways. Get on one and come directly into his heart full of love for you.
I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: “Jesus, I trust in You,” (Diary of St. Faustina, 327).
Jesus also said the greatest sinner has the greatest claim on his mercy. Remember he said through St. Matthew 11:28-30,
Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Your soul will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.
Let us get on a ray and drive into the heart of Jesus each day to receive more of his love for us. I love to nestle close to the heart of Jesus. There I can pray for our families, parishes, country, the lost sheep and conversion of all terrorists.
Prayerful blessings to you and yours,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2016 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)