This Sunday the Church is celebrating not a person, but a quality. The first Sunday after Easter is set aside to contemplate and pray for God's Divine Mercy. Why set aside a day each year for such a thing? Without a doubt the world needs Mercy, so we pray for it especially fervently this Sunday, all the while celebrating the actions of His Mercy in our lives. Anyone who has ever experienced God's Mercy knows, indeed, it is worthy of celebration. In fact, it is so important to the life of a Christian that even if we spent all 365 days of the year focusing upon God's infinite Mercy, we would never, even then, begin to understand it's importance and beauty.
The Church gives us a day and I'm giving myself the morning to contemplate it. It is nowhere near enough. Perhaps when we have an eternity, we'll come to begin to understand His infinite Mercy, but, like much of what we do, this will have to do for now.
He meets us where we are
Let me give you a bit of a metaphor. Last night I purchased two goats, an adult and a young kid. The adult goat has learned through her experience that people treat her well, so even though she doesn't know me yet, she knows to trust people. She was scared of the long drive home and her relief at seeing me open the back of the camper shell expressed itself in relief of the bodily kind. She made a mess back there, to put it kindly, and then she very mildly jumped out when I invited her to.
The kid goat was scared, too. Her fear of the experience of the drive expressed itself by cowering further into the truck when the back opened. She looked at me pleadingly to save her, all the while backing away from my soothing voice and reassurances as well as her only exit. To rescue her, to shepherd her, I had to crawl in through the mess the other goat had just made and get her. She wasn't budging otherwise. Once I got to her corner, she was more than happy to come to me. She nuzzled me, she snuggled me, and in various goaty ways expressed her gratitude as I maneuvered both of us around the ick and got us out.
If I get dirty, I can always take a shower and wash my clothes. God, on the other hand, is perfect. He has no need of showers. The Bible tells us that Sin and God cannot coexist. The metaphor of God as light and sin as darkness expresses it fairly well. Unlike the Eastern thought of light and dark being equal, science and Christian thought understands that light is a force and an enigmatic energy with unique qualities. Darkness is simply an absence of light. Light does not need darkness to exist, but the darkness must have light. Darkness is only created when something blocks the light. To underscore this metaphor, God is all Good. Sin is the shadow cast when God's will is blocked by the will of one of His creations. All suffering is the result of sin. Sin and the effects of sin are far reaching, but God's reach is infinite. Like Sin is destroyed in the presence of God, shadows are destroyed when light is introduced. When in a darkened room, a candle's light will fill it and caress the furthest walls. A star's light reaches into infinity, even though the human eye can be so distant that it can no longer perceive it. In such a case we will only perceive the darkness, though the light is still there. We are weak instruments in this way. We know this as a metaphor for God. We can remove ourselves so completely that His light is so far off we no longer see it and we think all is dark. We are weak instruments in this way, too.
Anyone who has been in the throes of their own Sin and has had the Grace of God come into their dirty little corner with an invitation knows how God fills even that with His presence, how all the fear and filth shrinks away in that moment, and how far we are elevated out of ourselves and into salvation when we say, "Yes, Father!"
God brings Himself to the most humble of circumstances in order to reach us. He comes to us in our depravity, our sin and suffering, to offer Himself as our savior. We are all, at one time or another, sinners. Be we the Prodigal Son, the woman caught in adultery, or merely the son who sinned just a little when he complained to his father about slaughtering the fatted calf on his brother's homecoming, God offers us a way back to Him, despite ourselves.
The little kid
Of my two new goats, I am less like the calm and trusting big goat and more like the new little kid goat. I tend to action more than contemplation. I think on my feet and I think with my mouth. Sometimes that backs me into corners I need saving from. I can trust that if that happens, He will come for me if I ask Him.
In all truth, once He even came when I didn't ask. His Mercy made me first realize I was unhappy with what I had done to myself, His Mercy awakened my desire to change the circumstances, then His Mercy came as a Person Who gave me the understanding that I was all that needed changing. The circumstances were my creation, the corner was of my choosing, the filth I was wallowing in was my own. He offered Himself to me, He showed Himself in the Eucharist, and then He asked me to chose Him.
I have been choosing Him ever since.
And so, dear little kid, if you are reading this, know that I have offered up this morning's sleep for your sake. I have pondered my own dark times again in order to ask that a brighter light shine in yours. I am praying that even if your back is turned to the Source of Light, that your eye be drawn to the reflections glimmering around you.
There is a Way.
There is Truth.
And there is Light.
Your life's greatest Love is calling.