Aloha Friday Message – February 22, 2019 – Our Call to Mercy

1908AFC022219 – Our Call to Mercy

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   Psalm 103:2-3a Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits – who forgives all your iniquity …

Psalm 51:10-12 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right [steadfast] spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing [generous] spirit.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We are already preparing for the 8th week in Ordinary Time. Ash Wednesday will be March 6th – just 10 days from now! What kind of series – if any – would you like to see this Lenten Season? Drop me a line via return email, or leave a comment on the blog site at https://www.aloha-friday.org/ or at the end of this post; just scroll to the very bottom and look for Leave a Reply Your email address will not be published.

OK, enough with the commercials! Let’s get into The Word. A few years back we did a four-part Mercy Series – it was also seen at Catholic 365: Mercy Series. There is a very specific reason I titled this essay Our Call to Mercy. To help explain it, we will share an observation about one of the most successful television franchises – Star Trek. It’s one of those Trekkie Trivia Treasures: What does the Captain of the Enterprise say after s/he gives orders for the course to be laid in and the engines to be activated? It sounds like this – “Lay in a course for heading 275 mark 187.” (Navigator response: Course laid in Sir) “All ahead Warp 6.” (Helm response: Aye, Captain, ahead Warp 6) Q: What does the Captain say to execute that order? A: Engage. That is what we should be doing when it comes to Our Call to Mercy – we are to engage; move forward on a proper heading as directed. To help clarify, let’s look at what we mean by engage:

   In this context, engage is similar to interlock or mesh as when gears or cogs interlock. But it is more like the intransitive verb which means to enter into or to participate. It is to act reciprocally with mutual input and response. This sense of  engage is not just to receive passively, but to actively give and receive with intentionality; to fully involve and include the entire transactional  input and output that influences or affects all participants. Blather. Blather. Blather. Our Call to Mercy is to [1] acknowledge and receive God’s mercy and [2] to  give others mercy unconditionally. “That’s not surprising,” you may say. “Didn’t Jesus tell us to be as merciful as God?”

You remember well, ʻŌmea. Here is the passage: Luke 6:36 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. And of course there’s this: Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. We know that our reward from God will be based on how well we followed Jesus’ command: John 13:34 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. That kind of love – agape love – is also unconditional and characterized by kindness, mercy, and grace. This is all summarized in the passage most-often quoted here: Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? There are many words used in Scripture which connote mercy. Among them are: Kindness, lovingkindness, mercy, graciousness, compassion, pity, benevolence, forbearance, forgiving, goodness, lenience, tenderness, favor, goodwill, charity, faithfulness, salvation.

All of these are GIFTS from God. WE cannot earn them, cannot buy them, cannot barter for them, or even really understand these gifts. They are overwhelmingly generous, incredibly opulent, and eternally accessible. We need only accept them in the same way as he gives them, and they are ours. But there’s more to it than that, isn’t there?

To recall something from last week, God rules the Universe, and therefore the Universe is governed by God’s Rules – his commandments and his Perfect Plan. One of those rules states that WE have to share every Gift we are given. It’s so simple it’s obvious, but then sometimes the obvious isn’t so simple. We know what we would be like without God’s Mercy – miserable. We are created in the image and likeness of God; whatever God is we are to be. God is Holy, we must be holy. God is Love, we must be loving. God is Forgiving, we must forgive as he forgives – completely. God is Merciful, we must show others mercy – even our enemies. He has even told us what will happen if we cannot stay engaged in his Plan in James 2:13 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment [condemnation]. God’s Mercy is available all the time everywhere to everyone; the Psalmist illustrates this by saying things like “I called upon the name of the Lord, and he answered me,” and “Hear, O Lord, the sound of My Call.” (↔ Music Link) WE call to God for mercy, and HE answers that call in accordance with his will. Sometimes his will is that we are granted reprise, relief, or even redemption from our adversity. Sometimes his will is that Mercy is best served by our suffering; this is hard for us to hear, because when we ask for mercy, we expect our pain to end. That’s not the Rule. The Rule is that God decides, we don’t. God is righteous, we are not, and we cannot, therefore, make a righteous choice.

We know we can depend on him and his Mercy because of his Righteousness – his infinitely perfect holiness. Psalm 116:4-5 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”  Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful; and Psalm 123:3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. We can also depend on his Justice – his infinitely perfect integrity. His gracious Mercy and Righteousness pervade all of creation. He created everything, and he alone knows everything (and everyone!) in all of his creation. He made them for us – all the earthlings – and all who will acknowledge that by living for, with, and in him can and will witness and enjoy his goodness and mercy forever. Such is the kindness of God who ejected Adam from Eden lest he stretch out his hand and take from the Tree of Life and thus live forever in Sin. Kindness is an attribute of God that he expects us to have and to use.

Ephesians 2:4-7 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Chris — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness* toward us in Christ Jesus.

* kindness – χρηστότητι (chrēstotēti) from χρηστότης (chréstotés) {khray-stot’-ace} goodness, uprightness, kindness, gentleness, kindness that is also serviceable. – See Galatians 5:22-23 where kindness is listed among the Fruit of the Spirit.

When we choose to be unkind, we choose to be ungodly, and that is one very unwise choice! God alone chooses wisely: Romans 9:15-18 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses. ( See Exodus 33:19, and Exodus 9:16) We are all in need of Mercy, and inasmuch as we call for Mercy and receive Mercy, we are similarly to possess Mercy and give Mercy. Everyone, every living soul, requires and receives Mercy:  Romans 11:32 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. It was disobedience that cut us off from the direct Mercy of God – living completely in his presence. It is the Grace of Obedience that restores us to the direct mercy of God. The Grace of Obedience leads us to the requisite for forgiveness: Repentance. From the beginning, God expects repentance as our response to his privilege of Mercy: Joel 2:13 13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. This is because 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end  – Lamentations 3:22. We repent – acknowledge our sins and confess our weakness – and we are restored: Leviticus 26:40, 42 40 But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me and, moreover, that they continued hostile to me – 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. It is foolishness to avoid repentance: Proverbs 28:13 13 No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

The outcome of this is a total transformation: Philippians 3:21 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. We once again become subject to, and therefore in union with, God. 1 Corinthians 15:49 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. We have an Earthly family in the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and a Heavenly Family in  the Eternal Communion of the Saints: Romans 8:29 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.

We call upon God for Mercy, and Mercy we must share; this creates in us a clean heart, a heart governed by Mercy and Love. If you acquire A Clean Heart (↔ Music Link), would you lose your heart of stone? (↔ Music Link) Then indeed each of us can say, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits – who forgives all your iniquity …. When it comes to Mercy, our order from the Lord is “ENGAGE!”

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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

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About Chick Todd

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

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