Living the Bond of Love and Mercy

3.14.18  Wed.  Wk 4 – Lent  (II)
Isaiah  49:  8 – 15
Gospel  of  John  5:  17 –30

Jesus answered the Jews:  “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”  For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also.  For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed.  For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.  Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to his Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.  Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.  Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.  For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to his Son the possession of life in himself.  And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man.  Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.

“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me”.          The Gospel of the Lord


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                   Living the Bond of Love and Mercy

St. Paul wrote in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: “Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation”. (2 Cor. 6:2)   We are living in a time of mercy, and now is the time to establish a relationship with †Jesus, who is our merciful Savior.   Now is the time!

On Ash Wednesday, as ashes were being traced on our foreheads, we were reminded: “Remember, you are dust and unto dust you shall return”.  When we pass from this life, the ‘Season of Mercy’ will be over; there is an end to this.  We read this in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Death puts an end to human life, as the time opens to either accepting or rejecting the Divine Grace manifested in Christ”. (CCC 1021)  Once we breath our last, (according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church) the time of mercy is over.  It then becomes the time of judgment.

We have parables like the parable of the ‘Rich Man and Lazarus’, and the words that †Jesus said to the ‘Good Thief’ on the cross that show us – the destiny can be different for different people.  As †Jesus says here: some will experience the Resurrection of the Life and some will receive the Resurrection of Condemnation.   We will meet †Jesus – but will we meet Him as Judge or Savior?  This will depend upon the relationship we have with God in this life.  All of us are created in the image and likeness of God, but are we faithful in living this image and likeness of God? †Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, and †Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father in completing His mission of reconciling the world to the Father.

Again from St. Paul: “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us, the message of reconciliation”. (2 Cor.5:19)  Just as †Jesus was obedient to His mission, we are called to be obedient to the mission given to us.  As †Jesus said to the apostles before he ascended into heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. (Matt.28:19)  Our mission is to make disciples for †Jesus.  Are we being faithful or, by the way we live, are we making people run away from †Jesus?

In the Gospel today, †Jesus said to the Jewish religious authorities: “The Father is at work until now, so I am at work…The Son cannot do anything on His own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what He does – the Son will also do”. (John 5:17:20)  If we are truly sons and daughters of the Father, then we will share in the work of †Jesus, who is our brother.  If we model ourselves after  †Jesus, we are called to be more obedient to the will of God, not less obedient.  The model of obedience is not seen between the master and his servant; that’s not a model we follow.  The model for obedience is between a Father and His Son, in whom the Father is well pleased.  This is the fullness of obedience that †Jesus modeled and that we are to model as children of God.  If we follow †Jesus in this way, it is to understand and to embrace the freedom to live and act as a child of God, which we are called to be.  We are called to live in freedom as children of God.

In the prophecy of Isaiah we heard this morning, the Father says: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb, even if she should forget, I will never forget you”. (Is.49:15)  There is no greater bond than between a mother and her child and, this passage speaks of the bond between the Creator and his greatest creation.   The greatest creation of a God is YOU!  We are the greatest creation of God!   And to nurture this bond, we must continue the work that has been set before us by †Jesus.  He fulfilled the mission of the Father, and so must we.

We read in Isaiah again: “Saying to prisoners: ‘Come out!  To those in darkness: ‘Show yourselves”! (Is.48:9)  To be caught up in sin, is to be in prison, and to be caught up in grave sin is to be entombed.  But God’s grace cannot be imprisoned. It cannot be kept out in the cold, dark tombs of our sinfulness.  God can’t stay away from us.  He loves us, that’s His nature.  It is his nature to love us – we are the children of His womb.  So He is always pouring out His mercy and His forgiveness if we ask Him for it.  There will never be a time that God will say: “No, I have forgiven you enough”.  He will never say that, because we are the children of His womb and He love us. I cannot experience the freedom to be the person that God wants me to be – unless I approach the mercy of God – unless I take my sins to Him.    And the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the doorway to this freedom.

The many who approach the Lord during our ‘24 Hours with †Jesus’ this past weekend – experienced that freedom. And all the priests will tell you the Joy that we felt in seeing people lifted up when they felt the mercy of God after Reconciliation.  Our mission – as disciples and sons and daughters of God is to live the mercy of the only begotten Son who died for us.  It is to reach out to others, to proclaim the Good News of God’s love and mercy to lead others to spiritual freedom – that’s the mission.

“The Father is at work until now – so I am at work”.   Created in the image and likeness of God, – and called to discipleship in †Jesus – we are called to be at work – as †Jesus was – to proclaim with our lips – to live with our lives – the unconditional love and infinite mercy of God.  Lent is a wonderful time to refocus our lives on this mission as we seek reconciliation and newness of life during this Penitential Season because, we will all stand before ††Jesus someday to give account of our mission.  Every one of us will stand before †Jesus.

St. John of the Cross wrote:

“In the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.” (Dichos, 64)

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.