Aloha Friday Message – April 10, 2015 – Lord have mercy!

1515AFC041015 – Mercy Me!

Read it online here, please.

Psalm 103:8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Much love to you , Beloved! Lent is behind us. Resurrection Sunday dawned bright and fair here in Kapaʽa. Our Rite of Christian Initiation class of five children received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion. They did a GREAT JOB!

Our entire Triduum was just so wonderful! We were blessed to be lectors for Palm Sunday’s Gospel of The Passion as it appears in Mark, then Thursday evening at the Maundy Thursday Mass we were also lectors. Crucita read the Proclamation for the Presentation of the Sacramental Oils which are used in anointing the sick, in Baptism, and in Confirmation. I did the reading from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (Paul describing the institution of Holy Communion). There was Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament all Thursday night through Friday Afternoon; I went from 2-3 AM, the hour I usually take because no one else usually does.

Then there was the Good Friday Service in the evening, and Crucita and I read the Passion from the Gospel of John. Saturday we were back at 9:00 in the morning to rehearse with our kids who have been studying with us for their Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion. We went through all the parts of the Vigil Mass with everyone who had some role in it. We finished rehearsal at about 11:15.

The Vigil started right on time at 7:00 PM. The kids did GREAT! We are so proud of them, and the kids, their parents and godparents (and lots of family members too) were so excited and happy. (Which reminds me, I need to post some photos to Facebook). I was the cantor for the Litany of the Saints. This year we did it in F# minor instead of D minor, so it was a little high for me, but we still got through it.

Vigil ended just before 10:30, so it was home to bed for us because it was already way past our bedtime. Then Easter Sunday rolled around. We always volunteer to do the Old Testament and Epistle readings for the 9:30 Mass on Easter Sunday because most of the other readers go to either the Sunrise Service or the 7 AM service, or they are visiting somewhere with family, so usually there aren’t many other lectors – or people – at that Mass. This year, though, we were astonished to see that all the Masses and services throughout the Triduum were packed!

So, yes it was an exciting and very blesséd Easter. Being part of a three-day-long church service was quite a boost for us. Living here in Kapaʽa is an even greater blessing because of our association with the people of St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish. I mean, Kauaʽi is pretty darn cool, but our Parish Life makes it super-nifty!

We are enabled and blessed to do these things because of God’s Mercy and Grace. April 12th – the first Sunday after Resurrection Sunday – is Divine Mercy Sunday. Our opening scripture passage today states that God is merciful and gracious. Those words are closely related, but they are different, and that’s what I’d like to explore today. I hope you don’t mind that I take you back to the Hebrew words for this passage. For me, it helps me to understand what  the Spirit is showing us when we look at the words HE uses to tell us what’s on God’s mind. Merciful (is merciful actually) looks like this רַח֣וּם rachuwm {rakh-oom’}. The best sense of it is compassionate. In many places it is translated as kind, kindness, kindhearted, benevolent, or steadfast love. When used to describe God’s disposition toward Israel, the compassion is overwhelming and super-abundant, far above anything that is deserved or could even be desired. It is exceedingly generous.

God’s Mercy is “from everlasting to everlasting.” (Psalm 103:17-18). Although it is passed down from generation to generation, it does have a limit. God is merciful “to those who keep his covenant and remember to is commandments.”  Mercy is the kindness God shows when we deserve to be punished for our sins, but he shows leniency because of his great love for each and every soul. God’s Mercy is one of his core characteristics. That means, of course, that it should be in our core values, too; we are created in the image and likeness of God. We are required to be merciful as he is merciful.

In the Beatitudes (and I love it when someone pronounces that as the “Be Attitudes!”), Jesus says in Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. We see the same thing in Luke 6:3636 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. How do we do that? How do we show mercy? You may remember we talked about the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy back in 2010. So, Beloved, I have been looking into what mercy is and how it has a role in our lives. The first thing I learned is that works of mercy – being merciful – affects us body and soul. There are corporal works of mercy, traditionally seven.

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

There are also seven spiritual works of mercy, six taught to us by Jesus, and the seventh added to affirm respect for human life.

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.

As you can see, being merciful, or as Micah 6:8 puts it “to love mercy,” presents to us with a formidable list of requirements. It seems to me that we would surely need to be both just and humble to tackle this list successfully. How in the world can we acquire and use those virtues? Through Grace; it is by Grace that we have access to all of God’s gifts.

Where does Grace originate? With God, of course! 2 John 1:3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love. God even said that about himself  when Moses went up on the mountains the second time to receive God’s Law.

Exodus 34:6 The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed,

“The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

What is grace and what does it cost us? Grace is “God’s unmerited favor.” It is undeserved, unearned, a totally FREE gift that is given to us in unlimited abundance. On of the characteristics of Grace is Mercy, but there is so, so much more!! The root word for Grace is the Greek word χάρις, (charis) {khar’-ece). It is an expression of God freely and abundantly extending himself to us because he wants to be near us, to bless us, to love us, and to share his holiness with us. It gives him joy, delight, and pleasure – it blesses him – to bless us with his favor. He grants it in such excess that it can never, ever be depleted; it will never be used up. It is his way of ensuring that we can recognize and emulate his own goodness, steadfast love, mercy, kindness, holiness, and charity. Grace is what makes us eligible for Eternal Life, and eternal life is in Christ Jesus. And, Beloved, Grace comes only from God. You and I cannot dispense Grace. We can share the benefits of Grace with others, but we cannot give them Grace. When we love one another as he has loved us we prepare hearts for Grace. It is Jesus Christ who testifies to the gift of Grace and pours it into the hearts and live that are prepared for it.

1 John 5:6-10 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree. If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10 Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son.

Where can we get it? HOW can we get it? It’s a simple prayer away; it’s just that close. The Spirit of Truth testifies for our benefit. We just have to accept it as God’s gift:

Hebrews 4:16 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

And so, Beloved, I want you to know both the Grace and the Mercy of God. We remember. We celebrate. We believe. Our God is an awesome God who came to us to show he is meek and humble of heart. Go to him. Learn from him. The Grace is free, and the Mercy is overly-abundant. They are ours for the taking. And through that perfect gift of Mercy and Grace we can know God’s unending favor and keep his commandment to love one another as he has loved us.

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

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Special prayers are requested for a young man who was badly injured in an ATV crash in New Mexico. Also, we are asked to remember an aging mother whose son is in hospice care.

 

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About Chick Todd

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

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