The Joy of Mercy – ZENIT – English

Roman Rite

Ex 32, 7-11.13-14; ps 50; 1 Tim 1, 12-17; Lk 15, 1-32

Ambrosian Rite

Is 5, 1-7; Ps 79; Gal 2.15-20; Mt 21, 28-32

Second Sunday after the martyrdom of Saint John the Forerunner.

1) The logic of mercy.

The reason why Jesus tells the three parables proposed this Sunday by the liturgy of the Word is given to us by Saint Luke at the beginning of chapter 15 of his Gospel: “The tax collectors and the sinners all approached him (the Christ) to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured; they said, “That man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” » (cf v 1-3) Then Jesus tells the parables which narrate the story of a sheep, a piece of silver and a son who were successively lost and then found.

In the parable of the lost and found sheep, it should be noted that the shepherd does not interrupt his search until he has found it: it is therefore an obstinate, persevering search, in no way disposed to abandon the sheep to his destiny. In this story, Christ presents us with a faithful, persevering, tenacious God. The heart of God has one great and unique desire: that no man be lost and if that happens, the tenacity of the Father ensures that he always remains a father for his children, no matter what.

In the parable of the lost drachma it is the joy of a poor woman who finds what she needs to live that stands out. To look for this coin, this woman lit a lamp: at that time the houses were rather dark and without light she would not have been able to find her precious change. When the light reflected on the room making it shine, then it was possible to find it. It teaches us that we can get lost but that we must not stop “shining” because that way we can be found more easily.

In the parable of the lost son (better known as that of the prodigal son) we contemplate the Father, faithful to the son, who rejoices when he returns to his father’s house, a place of forgiveness and celebration.

The Father forgives and organizes a party for this lost and unwise son, who, having desired to have everything for himself, had claimed and obtained “only” his share then had dissipated it. This merciful Father not only welcomes his son back but also restores his dignity as a son (cf. Pope Francis, General Audience of August 30, 2016). This son receives more than he asks for. Afflicted by his sin, this young man returns to his father and asks him to be welcomed “only” as a servant. To those who would have been satisfied with the heart of a servant, the father gives back the heart of a son.

This prodigal and lost son gives his own pain to his father and his father confirms him in this love against which he had absurdly revolted.

We too with our sin refuse the free love of God the Father. But when we return to Him and are converted by His merciful justice, we receive a garment for the feast, a ring and sandals.

To each of us too, when we are converted, the Father says “Quickly, bring the most beautiful garment and dress it”. What was Adam’s first garment? He was naked. His clothing was to be in the image and likeness of God, that is to say to be a son. This is our garment: to be sons alongside the Father. The fact of being son dresses our dignity and our identity.

To each of us also, who returns contrite to the Father, are given the ring and the sandals which confirm that we are sons and not servants. Indeed to give the ring with the coat of arms means to give the seal, that is to say to have at its disposal all the family goods and not only a part. It was the free men who put sandals on their feet because the slaves went barefoot.

2) Justice and love: mercy.

I believe it is useful to remember that the mercy of God is inconceivable for a man because it goes beyond his thoughts. Before understanding it by reflection, I understood it by this fact:

I was in Germany, in Frankfurt am Main, for a German course and one day the teacher asked the students to talk about what each of us considered to be the most characteristic of his country. Since they knew I was from the Vatican, I had to talk about Vatican City. During the ten minutes given to me I spoke of the Vatican as a “functional” state which allows the Holy Father to exercise his “function” as head of the Universal Church, at the service of truth and charity.

After me, it was the turn of a young Ukrainian who told the parable of the prodigal son. I was amazed at this choice. But I was even more amazed at the reaction of the four students from South Korea who said, “It’s really a very beautiful story, but it’s not human. These young Asians had understood that the parable could not be the fruit of a human spirit. Only a divine spirit could conceive it, only a divine love could realize it. Only a restless human heart can seek it, only a contrite human heart can welcome it and put it into practice through works of mercy.

In its essence, mercy expresses the bond of love that unites the Creator to the creature, the Father to the son and the sons to each other.

The important thing is to live life as a persevering return to the Father’s house.

A return through pain, contrition and conversion of heart which presupposes the desire to change, the firm decision to improve our life.

A return to the Father’s house through the sacrament of forgiveness where by confessing our sins we put on Christ and become his brothers and members of the family of God again.

God, this Father rich in mercy, not only waits “with anxiety” that we return to Him, but He also comes first to meet us towards us repentant sinners. He joins us while we are still only on the way to Him, he embraces us with love and without reproaching us for our faults, he covers us with graces and gifts.

Let us not cease to contemplate with amazement “the father of the prodigal son who “is faithful to his paternity, faithful to that love which he has always lavished on his son” (Saint John Paul II, Dives in mercy, IV, 6). This fidelity is expressed by the rapidity of the embrace and by the joy of the celebration.

In his house, which is also ours, God awaits us, like the father in the parable, although we do not deserve it. He doesn’t care how bad our sin is. What matters is that we feel longing for the paternal home, that we open our hearts to divine mercy, amazed at the faithful love of the Father and that we rejoice in the divine gift of being able to be called his children. and to be in fact.

3) Virginity, tenderness and mercy.

Commenting on this parable of the prodigal son, mainly the sentence “As he was still far away, his father saw him and was moved with pity; he ran to throw himself on his neck and covered him with kisses”, Pope Francis said: “What tenderness! and he added. “He saw it from afar, which means that he was constantly waiting for it, from above. He was waiting for her, tenderness is a beautiful thing”. With the term “tenderness”, the Holy Father does not mean an action based solely on emotion and feeling. Tenderness means welcoming the other in the totality of who he is. A mother is tender not so much because she gently caresses or kisses her child, but when she takes care of him with the tenderness, concern and gentleness of God’s goodness. Already the prophets of the Old Testament used words for God which recall the tenderness, the intensity and the totality of the love of God which manifests itself in creation, in the whole history of salvation and which culminates in the incarnation of the Son. God, however, always exceeds all human love, as the prophet Isaiah says: “Does the woman forget her infant, does she forget to show her tenderness to the child of her flesh? Even if they forgot, I will not forget you! (Is 49:15).

Consecrated virgins in the world are true to their calling when they practice chastity as a love of God. This love includes love of neighbor who expects gestures of mercy and tenderness. With a humble life, they go beyond appearances and discreetly show the tenderness of God that each one carries within herself. In this world, they follow the invitation: “Let your life be a particular testimony of charity and a visible sign of the future Kingdom. » ( Ritual of Consecration of the Virgins, 30). With this strong tenderness, they radiate the dignity of being the spouse of merciful Christ and they testify that those who abandon themselves to the tender love of God are in joy and in peace. By coming close with tenderness and love to situations of suffering and weakness, these consecrated women “illuminate by example the value of consecrated life and make its beauty and holiness shine in the Church” (Pope Francois)

Patristic Reading

SSaint Peter Chrysologus (+450)

Sermon 168, 4-6; CCL 24B, 1032-1034.

The fact of finding an object that we had lost fills us each time with a new joy. And this joy is greater than that which we felt, before losing it, when this object was well guarded. But the parable of the lost sheep speaks more of God’s tenderness than the way men usually behave. And it speaks to a profound truth. To forsake what is important for the sake of what is most humble is proper to divine power, not to human covetousness. For God even brings into existence that which is not; he goes in search of what is lost while keeping what he left behind, and he finds what was lost without losing what he has in his custody.

This is why this shepherd is not of the earth but of the sky. The parable is in no way the representation of human works, but it hides divine mysteries, as the numbers it mentions show immediately: If any of you says the Lord, has a hundred sheep and loses one… (Luke 15.3) <>

You see, the loss of a single sheep has painfully tested this shepherd, as if the whole flock, deprived of his protection, had taken a wrong turn. So, leaving the ninety-nine others there, he goes in search of only one, he takes care of only one, in order to find them and save them all in her.

But it is time to explain the hidden meaning of this celestial parable. This man who has a hundred sheep, Christ, is the good shepherd, the merciful shepherd who established the whole flock of the human race in one sheep, that is to say in Adam. He had placed the sheep in the enchanting paradise and in the region of the pastures of life. But she, relying on the howls of the wolves, forgot the voice of the shepherd, she lost the way that leads to the fold of salvation and found herself covered with mortal wounds. Christ came into the world to seek the sheep and found it in the bosom of the Virgin. He came, he was born in the flesh, he placed the sheep on the cross, and took it on the shoulders of his passion. Then, filled with the joy of the resurrection, he raised her, by his ascension, to the abode of heaven.

He gathers his friends and neighbors, i.e. the angels, and he said to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep, the one that was lost (Luke 15.6)! The angels rejoice and exult with Christ for the return of the Lord’s sheep. They are not irritated to see her sit before them on the throne of majesty. For envy no longer exists in heaven from which it was banished with the devil. Thanks to the Lamb who took away the sin of the world, the sin of envy can no longer enter the heavens.

Brothers, Christ came to seek us on earth; seek him in the heavens. He has carried us away into the glory of his divinity; we carry it in our body through the holiness of our whole life. Give glory to God, says the Apostle, and carry it in your body (1Co 6.20 Latin). He who lives in the flesh without causing him to perform any work of sin, he bears God in his body.

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The Joy of Mercy – ZENIT – English

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