The Father of Mercies


God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself.

God the Father of mercies. God begets mercies. From the womb before the dawn; from the eternal, uncreated fountainhead of all existence; from the unknown origin of the stars, He births mercies. He births, from within Himself, tender understanding and compassion. [Haga click por Spanish.]

We did not exist. Mount Everest did not exist. The seas and rivers did not exist. And He took pity on us in our non-existence, because existing outshines not existing. He took pity on our unimaginable poverty—the poverty of not even being anything at all—and, out of mercy, He made us.

The Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself.

Reconciled. Accountants? Any here with us? Familiar with reconciliations. Bank reconciliations, etc. How about marriage counselors? Familiar with reconciliations? Let’s hope so.

New York Times 1932 on 2017 eclipseAnyway, the Father of mercies: He’s all good. No shadow of falsity in Him, no selfish shenanigans behind closed doors, no short-sighted impetuosities late at night.

He simply gives, gives life unto peace and blessedness. He stabilizes and fortifies. He makes solar eclipses occur at predictable times. A historian I know put on his Twitter feed a New York Times article from 1932, which told everyone they would have to wait until 2017 for the next great eclipse in the US.

Anyway, the Father of mercies sustains everything He has made with His immovable-rock-like steadiness, never lapsing or failing in any way.

We fall short of this. We are like financial records that have not been attentively kept. Or like a marriage that has been neglected. Something—someone—must reconcile us with the Good, with truth and reality and the plan that God has. We’re like old, desiccated brick walls that need pointing, liable to leak and then crack and crumble—unless a stronger and more loving power fills the cracks in us with some solid bond.

The stronger and move loving power? Christ, the Son of God. His sacrifice on the cross effects the reconciliation between God’s pure goodness and us. The Western world has fallen into a weird spiritual malaise and can’t see the thing that has been obvious to every honest pagan who has ever heard the Gospel: the world, without Christ, languishes in hopeless estrangement from the Creator. But: The world with Christ, with Christ crucified and risen? Reconciled with God.

God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself, and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.

The Reconciler, having reconciled the world and God by shedding His innocent blood, pours forth reconciliation from His own Heart. The Holy Spirit of mercy, at work in the world…pointing the desiccated mortar. Finding a miraculous way to balance the ill-kept books.

This is not a zero-sum cosmos, people. That’s the glory of the Gospel. God always has more to give. Christ pours out His Spirit of mercy and reconciliation into the humblest and most apparently innocuous moments.

Pope Francis hears confession during penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica at VaticanOkay…time for the quiz. Which text have we studied here so far? “God the Father of mercies…Spirit for the forgiveness of sins…” Correct! The prayer of absolution in the sacrament of Penance.

We hear all about it in our gospel passage at Sunday Mass: Lord Jesus gave St. Peter and the Apostles, and their successors in office, the power to bind and to loose. This power abides in the world. We unworthy priests possess this authority, in our own little hands.

…Through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace.

The ministry doesn’t belong to the priest, as if it were his own power as a man to loosen the sins of his people. Left to my own devices, I often fumble in the binding and loosing of my own shoelaces. No—Holy Mother Church possesses this ministry, because the Lord endowed Her with it. We priests exercise this ministry merely as instruments of a power greater than our own. He chooses to use us in this way, in spite of our own personal unworthiness to do so.

Why? Why did the Lord give the power of the keys to St. Peter? So that wherever a priest can hear someone unburden his or her conscience, impose a penance, and then raise his hand in loving pardon, reconciliation with God can occur.

All of us have this comfort in common: there’s a priest out there who will hear my confession, and God will forgive my sins.


Guest Bests

by Mary Ann
mary-ann1Best runner to cheer for during a marathon: a priest

Best lunch companion: a priest

Best trip abroad: pilgrimage with a priest (or two)

priesthoodBest life’s work: be a priest

Best GPS to Heaven: listen to a priest

Best prayer intention: protection and sanctification of priests

Best Blessing from God: the gift of our priests

Best place to hear the most beautiful words on earth (absolution): Confession to a priest

Best Lenten activity: Stations of the Cross led by a priest

Best Adoration moments: reverent Elevation during Holy Mass by a priest

Best gift: receiving Holy Communion from a priest