Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 352

Keep yourselves in the love of God
and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear,
abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

I read a news story recently of a family deeply afflicted when one of the children suffered -- and recovered from -- an incurable illness. The child's parents were told he probably would not survive extensive chemotherapy; it's best to take him home and let him die surrounded by his loving family. 

Unexpectedly, even as he was gasping his apparently last breath, he began to breathe more easily. His recovery was agonizingly slow and his parents were again told not to expect much. The weary couple obeyed their advisors and steeled themselves for the worst. And yet the child continued to recover. 

"The doctors were amazed." 

The parents, wealthy, upwardly mobile, non-believers seem more embittered by the experience than grateful. After surrendering to his death they hardly know how to accept the boy's miraculous recovery. How do we recover hope when we have been overcome by despair? 

Christians take seriously the words of Saint Jude, "wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

We don't know how that mercy will come. We ask God for success, healings and reconciliations but we know that God owes us nothing. With that realization we ask God to come with us and in that we are assured. We remember Jesus' parting words to us as he was taken up: And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Saint Jude urges us to practice mercy in three different ways: On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

Because we have learned to wait on God's mercy despite our personal disappointments we can show mercy to those who are deeply disappointed, such as the couple of this recovering child. We know that hope is not restored simply because we got what we wanted. We have learned through many disappointments and much grief that our covenant with God is deeper than our passing whims and preferences; it surpasses even trauma with its lifelong scarring. 

Despite everything we still believe in God. He does not abandon us and we cannot abandon God. 

The Lord is close to the broken hearted; those whose spirit is crushed he will save.

We have seen his covenant with us in the very person of Jesus Christ, even in his tortured, crucified body. When he was raised up -- even as he showed us the nail marks! -- we knew the covenant is irrevocable. 

With that confidence we abide with one another, absorbing the grief and disappointment of each member, surrounding them with a torrent of prayer, and lifting them before the mercy of God. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.