Aloha Friday Message – February 26, 2010 – Second Friday of Lent


Happy Aloha Friday, Beloved! Today I am thinking again about mercy. Last week I described two kinds of mercy – Corporal and Spiritual. Here are the two lists I sent:

Corporal Works of mercy
1. Feed the hungry,
2. Give drink to the thirsty,
3. Welcome the stranger,
4. Clothe the naked,
5. Care for the ill,
6. Visit the imprisoned,
7. Bury the dead

Spiritual works of mercy

1. Admonish sinners,
2. Instruct the uninformed,
3. Counsel the doubtful,
4. Comfort the sorrowful,
5. Be patient with those in error,
6. Forgive offenses,
7. Pray for the living and the dead.

What do you think of when you see these fourteen actions? When I read this list, I think, “Man! I can’t do all that stuff!” That’s probably true, I can’t do all of it, but I can do some of it. Whenever I look at something God makes available for me to do, especially if it looks difficult, it often helps to remember Abraham. Here’s what I mean.

Abraham started off as Abram, a princely warrior from “Ur of the Chaldees.” The Bible puts him 12 generations from Adam, and 10 generations from Noah. God told him to get up and move across a vast distance to a land God would show him, a land where he would become the father of many nations. He entered into a covenant with God and throughout his remaining life he did some pretty amazing things. One of the things God called upon him to do was to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. Most of us remember the story.

God told Abraham to take Isaac to the top of a distant mountain. Isaac was to carry the wood for the burnt offering. Abraham prepared the altar, bound Isaac, and was prepared to kill him there. His reasoning was that God had promised him he would be the father of many nations; that God could be trusted to keep his promise; that even though it made no worldly sense to kill his son and his progeny, God would provide a way to keep his promise. As Abraham raised the knife to take Isaac’s life, a messenger of God told him to stop. He had proved his faith. Another suitable sacrifice was provided – a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. Isaac was redeemed, God’s promise was kept intact, and Abraham was ready for the next action God would request.

How could Abraham do that?! How did he have so much faith in God? How in the world was he prepared to take his own son’s life? And there you have it, the word that sets Abraham apart from us: Prepared.

When God calls us to faith, he prepares us to receive that grace, and to act upon it. We are empowered to hear God’s call and believe in our hearts. We are also empowered to profess that faith in word and deed. So, what I am writing about to you is the profession of faith by works of mercy. You have been prepared to do at least one thing on at least one of these lists. In fact, you are probably empowered to do more than one thing. You are prepared to act. What, if anything, is stopping you?

“I’m not comfortable going to the Soup Kitchen. I feel some anxiety about doing that.” OK, how about sending them a check, or buying some nonperishable foods and dropping them off at the Food Bank? Maybe you and a friend can go together, or you can go with your kid.

“If I give money to this or that charity, they will be coming back with letter after letter asking for more. I feel bad about not answering every appeal.” OK. Answer one, and every time you get an additional letter, pray for the people who are asking for funds and pray even more for the people they are helping. Later on, answer another one, maybe from a different appeal. God is just giving you lots of chances to be merciful. Every once in a while, take a chance and do it.

“Gosh! I can’t go minister to prisoners! That scares the daylights out of me!” Well, maybe so, but you can support prison ministries. You can learn about that mission in your community and support the people who are called to serve. And who knows? If you try it, you might like it.

“I go to a funeral every once in a while if I knew the deceased, but I really don’t have the time or stamina to bury someone.” Leave your shovel at home and send a sympathy card to the family, donate flowers or give a gift to the charity they designate, pray for the peaceful repose of souls, or visit a cemetery with your church or civic group and do a little cleaning up.

These are but a few practical examples of doing something you’ve already been prepared to do. Look over that list again. As you read through it now, is there something that sounds doable? Search your heart. Isn’t there some preparation there for doing just that one thing at least once? Not getting any bright ideas? Ask God to show you one of those things for which He’s prepped you. Still nothin’ poppin’? Pray about it for the rest of this week, because next week we’ll think about some of the spiritual works of mercy – the “really scary ones” we usually don’t even want to talk about because we think we can’t handle the assignment.

All of these 14 actions are based on compassion, and compassion is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Why? Well because He is the epitome of compassion. Who else but God could love us with so much compassion that He forgives our sins and then forgets we ever did anything wrong?

Here is today’s Bible verse. I’ve put this in previous messages. It is another of my favorites. It is about kindness and compassion.

Ephesians 4: 32

NAB: (And) be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
NIV: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
KJV: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

While you’re thinking about finding your niche in the works of mercy, read up a bit on my old friend, Abraham. He really was quite a guy! ABRAHAM

Please take a minute to pray for the MBN members who are praying for you. Remember JK a skilled artisan coping with MS; DG recovering from surgery; CK dealing with difficult and high-risk pregnancy; JP and JM as well as Justin, MG, C&GW, and SC – in various stages of cancer or remission; and of course the people afflicted by war, terror, disease, famine, and worst of all – indifference. Pray that you will have compassion for all of them and God will ensure your compassion will find them.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

PS: Have you had a chance to visit FUJIOKA DESIGN yet? Very nicely-designed website (Chanson designed it herself and took all the photos), and some really nice jewelry.

Lenten Series on Mercy

Follow this series on Corporal Acts of Mercy

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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