Have Mercy

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Memorial of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr

John 3:31-36
The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.
Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for these several days of reflection on the themes you revealed first to Nicodemus. May I draw grace and inspiration from my time of prayer today.
Encountering Christ:

  1. Earthly Things: Divisive politics, discord over COVID-19 remedies, Zoom meeting overload, and social isolation: These earthly things have led to an unprecedented crisis in Americans’ mental health, according to an annual Gallup poll. Imagine how differently we would look upon our circumstances if, as a country, we accepted and lived by the testimony of “the one who comes from heaven.” Living life with an eternal perspective, remembering that we are merely sojourners meant for a different homeland, would alleviate much of the sadness we experience when we dwell on earthly things. Lifting our eyes to “the one who comes from above” each day in prayer helps us maintain an eternal perspective, no matter how chaotic “earthly things” become.
  2. No Rationing: Jesus tells us that he speaks the word of God and does not ration the gift of the Spirit he receives from his Father. Therefore, we can be confident when we pray with the Scriptures that the Spirit is present, giving us the grace we need for the day. Even if our prayer feels dry and sterile, or we’re distracted the whole time, we know that, since Jesus does not ration the gifts of the Spirit, we can count on his grace-filled presence to “enkindle in us the fire of his love” (Come Holy Spirit prayer).
  3. Disobedience Equals Death: Our Lord’s wrath is not a personality trait of his. He is unchanging, pure love. Rather, his wrath is an extension of his perfect justice. God’s wrath may be better understood with this metaphor: “God is totally opposed to all evil, and sends his lightning bolts to oppose it (so to speak), yet we cling by our sins to the lightning rod of evil, and then complain that he is a God of wrath!” (Father Seraphim Michalenko, Seraphim, Pillars of Fire in My Soul: The Spirituality of St. Faustina, MIC, Marian Press, 2003). God’s ultimate wrath is the consequence of our disobedience—unending eternal punishment for sinners in hell. Fortunately, Sister Faustina tells us that we are in a period of unparalleled mercy. “All grace flows from mercy, and the last hour abounds with mercy for us. Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery. One thing alone is necessary; that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest” (Diary 1507).

Conversing with Christ: Lord, you remind us in the Scriptures that you are trustworthy, loving, just, and merciful. May I and those I so dearly love be the beneficiaries of your awesome mercy! I claim the promise you made to Sister Faustina: “The prayer most pleasing to me is prayer for the conversion of sinners. Know, my daughter, that this prayer is always heard and answered” (Diary 1397).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a sacrifice (or two) for myself and the souls I know who are in need of your mercy.
For Further Reflection: Which is He: A God of Wrath or of Mercy? By Robert Stackpole, STD.
Written by Maribeth Harper.

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