Jesus Is Absolute Mercy!
The Lord is Gracious and Merciful, slow to anger and abounding in Love" (Psalm 145:8). The words of this Psalm are not mere words to me, nor is the icon of the "Divine Mercy" of Jesus.
For me, Jesus' Mercy is a tangible reality. It is a reality that fills me with his Love, his Power, and Mercy towards others. Yes, I have been an active recipient of his Love and Mercy throughout my life and more profoundly when he allowed me to approach his throne of grace.
When my shortcomings brought me to my knees and I approached the confessional - I was forgiven, released from bondage, and set free. "Bless the Lord, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God, who pardons all your ills. Delivers your life from the pit, surrounds you with Love and compassion, fills your days with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Ps 103:3-5). Yes, Jesus opened up the fount of his mercy to me and allowed me to see because God desires Mercy for all of his children- specifically, the troubled youth of our cities. Often times the "Divine Mercy" of Jesus is extended through people and the Master has allowed me to realize the depth of his mercy so that I could be the hand that extends it to others. Today, I marvel at the way our great king accomplishes his handiwork, the way he distributes his love and Mercy throughout our cities and streets - by using us! The call of Abraham, Moses, and David makes it evident that only God can "take the worst, turn it around, and make it the best."
I, as Youth Minister and Scripture Teacher at Christ the King Church in Los Angeles, am not the best, but I am hopeful. I am hopeful as I recall an aphorism that someone once told me, "There is no Saint without a past and no sinner without a future." I am deeply aware of this because of the Love and Mercy that I have received. Jesus speaks to us in the same way that he spoke to Mary Magdalene: "Has no one condemned you? Neither will I condemn you." Therefore, I am confident because I have experienced the "Good News": The Good News of God's Love and Redemption! "Praise the Lord, who is good; God's Love endures forever; Praise the God of God's; God's Love endures forever; Praise the Lord of Lord's; God's Love endures forever" (Ps 136:1-3). It is the knowledge and appropriation of Jesus' salvific act that enables me to realize freedom from the weight of sin and hopelessness. "The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in Love." This is a message that must be heard and one that I've attempted to hand on to our teenagers for the past eight years.
Another person once said, "Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of God we so blindly evoke?" For example, what immensity of the supreme benevolence of God is contained in the testimony of Matthew's Gospel, where Jesus says, "But Blessed are your eyes, because they see, your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it" (Mt 13:16-17). Amen, by the unsurpassing providence of God, we, sinful creatures that we are, are allowed to see. "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and unsearchable his ways!" (Rom 11:33). By the grace of God we are able to see and to know that God desires mercy for all of his children, especially the marginalized.
After I was delivered to the "throne of grace", I was placed at the service of our youth (teens), which enabled me to penetrate the love and mercy of God even deeper. The Master has allowed me to reach beyond the exterior rough edges of our youth and peer into the interior grandeur of his handiwork: "For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen" (Wisdom 13:5). I have seen in the teen potentiality- the potential to be great.
They are energetic, curious, restless, bold, intelligent, fragile, fearless, and hungry to be acknowledged and fed. Great destinies are opened to them, therefore it is important for us to stop what we are doing and feed them. On one particular night, while out on a social activity, I heard one of our teens (call me by name) from a distance, in a voice that seemed angelic, and say, "I'm hungry." The echo of that request still resonates in my ears in the way Jesus' followers were hungry for his healing presence. This is why Jesus commissioned Peter, "If you love me, feed my sheep" (John 21:17).
Our merciful redeemer knew the state of his people, as he looked with pity upon them and said, "they are like sheep without a shepherd." The same holds true for our current generation of youth- they are like sheep without a shepherd. This situation brings to mind our Lord's edict in the Gospel of Matthew where he says, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14). The children of our world today (which encompass many categories) are hungry - they are hungry for a message of hope, pardon, and mercy: "Out of the depths I call to you, Lord; Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy" ('De Profundis', Ps 130:1-2). The "Good News" is that God desires mercy for his children- all of us! As St. Bonaventure said, "Jesus extended fatherly affection to the repentant, showing them the open bosom of divine mercy...to manifest the sweetness of supreme devotedness, the fountain of all mercy, the good Jesus, wept for us in our misery not only once but many times." For the sake of your sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Further, the Franciscan Doctor of the Church says, "Jesus wept first over Lazarus, then over the city and finally on the cross, a flood of tears streamed forth from those loving eyes for the expiation of all sins. The savior wept abundantly, now deploring the misery of human weakness, now the darkness of a blind heart, now the depravity of obdurate malice."
The Divine Mercy of Jesus is not a mere concept, but a living, breathing, reality that desires to engulf our lives when we are not aware of it, when we don't deserve it, and providentially when we most need it. It comes to us in various forms, through various people. In my own life, the Master's merciful touch has come through the loving gaze of a nurse (while bleeding on an ER table), through the fearless intervention of a petite girl (while outnumbered and being beaten upon), and most significantly through the absolution of one of God's priests (in the confessional). Fr. Mark Link, S.J. explains that Israel 's spiritual history parallels our own spiritual history: "God calls us to greatness; we sin and fall from greatness; God recalls us to greatness." Kyrie, eleison, Christe eleison. St Paul reminds us that, "Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all" (Romans 11:29-32). Domine Fili unigenite, Iesu Christe, Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
There is nothing more powerful than knowing, deep within the recesses of your heart, that you are forgiven. Forgiveness is freedom and the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ desires to feed all of his children with his Love, Forgiveness, and Mercy. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17). Amen, our great and almighty Savior desires to free all of his children (especially our youth), from the rages of despair, loneliness, doubt, weakness, hopelessness, sinfulness, and emptiness. God is Love, Goodness, Holiness, Mystery, and Absolute Mercy. "For he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel , for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever" (Luke 1:53-55).
Indeed, our Lord has remembered his promise of mercy, "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of your hands I have written your name." (Is 49:15-16). Throughout history God has utilized spiritual giants to proclaim and demonstrate his merciful love and redemption: The Cure'd'ars, Padre Pio, Saint Faustina, Mother Teresa, God' s Servant John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI.
Our new pontiff proclaims to the world upon his installation, "The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and into the splendor of God's light, the true life." It is this urgent message that must be proclaimed to a world that is hungry for "they know not what."
Our Catholic youth are continually setting an example of where our true food resides. The gathering of a million Catholic youth at the closing Mass of World Youth Day ( Cologne , Germany ), discloses to the entire world that our sustenance is embodied in the Holy Eucharist.
A cardinal who witnessed the event reported, "Our Catholic youth are returning to countries all over the world this week with a new awareness of Jesus in their lives, the conviction that God truly loves them, and a wonderful zeal to share this good news with others- especially their peers. They will be our best evangelizers when they get home" (The Tidings, Aug.26th, 2005). The "Magnificat" expresses what our youth experienced, "Out of the love which consumed him, Jesus Christ offered himself upon the cross as the perfect sacrifice of the new and eternal Covenant; the Father received the sacrifice and drew him from death to glory. On Sunday the whole Church celebrates this immeasurable mystery of love and life" (Magnificat, August, 2005).
Jesus is absolute Mercy!
Jesus we trust in you!