Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Feb. 9, 2016 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 2

Feb. 9, 2016 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 2

Tonight,  throngs of crowd are enjoying the Mardi Gras parades. Our Louisiana Mardi Gras reminds me in someway the throngs of people who participate daily in the candlelight procession at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. The key difference between the two crowds is that instead of the crowd chanting, “Throw me something, mister!” the crowd at Lourdes lift their lit candles and chant, “Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.” They lift their voices and their hearts to the Mother of Mercy in the sanctuary of God known for healing mercy.

And tonight we come to this sanctuary to cry out to God for His healing mercy. The prayer of King Solomon in the First Reading reflects that very desire:
“May your eyes watch night and day over this temple, the place where you have decreed you shall be honored; may you heed the prayer which I, your servant, offer in this place.
Listen to the petitions of your servant and of your people Israel which they offer in this place. Listen from your heavenly dwelling and grant pardon.”

In this sanctuary, Jesus looks at us with great love and desires to heal our sinful hearts. He is saddened when we stop at the surface of things, as he lamented in today’s Gospel, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” God sees our hearts with great compassion; yet, when we look at others, do we judge based on their externals and not see their hearts? Pope Francis explains, “When we have a person before us, Jesus urges us to never stop at the surface of things. Instead, he calls us to look beyond, to focus on the heart in order to see how much generosity everyone is capable of. No one can be excluded from the mercy of God."

Our Holy Father has challenged us to truly see the entire person and not just the external. I know for myself that when I would wait at a signal light and see a homeless person holding up a sign, I would take my clerical collar off so that I didn't have to be bothered. One time after I drove off, I heard within, "That was my son in whom I'm well pleased." I realized then that was an ugliness within me that needed to be purified.

The season of Lent during this Jubilee Year of Mercy should be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy. God is asking us to be more aware of how we are being loved and forgiven. In turn, we are invited to do the same for others. Let us ponder the following:
Is there a relationship in your life that is poisoned by judgment or bitterness? How is God asking you to see this person differently, with Jesus’ eyes of mercy?

-Fr. Paul Yi