Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday and Divine Mercy

This past week, we've seen what a merciless mob can do.  At Garissa University College campus in Kenya on Holy Thursday, masked terrorists separated Christians from Muslims, and shot one hundred and fifty dead while wounding another seventy.

2015 years ago on another Holy Thursday, people gathered before Pilate and demanded an innocent man be put to death by shouting, "Crucify him."

In 2015, people saw a news clip about a pizza restaurant in a small town in Indiana, and a twitter storm of outrage over people saying they wouldn't cater a same sex wedding forced the business to close perhaps forever.   


There are those who think Christianity is no longer tolerable unless it abandoned the tenets the world deems untenable.  These reactions come from those who think certain teachings out moded and thus in need of being discarded, and from those who feel tired of being meek and gentle and  inviting to the world around us.  The world doesn't care about us, it's time to fight!  

I've seen both reactions. My answer to them is, look at the cross.  The answer to each of these moments, is what happens today, Good Friday.  

However you depict the reality of the crucifixion, one thing remains clear. Jesus didn't fight the cross, He willed to allow the cross to happen.  Jesus didn't abandon a single of the people he came to save, he wept for those who might refuse.  He didn't summon a legion of angels to smite the soldiers who crucified him or the men who scourged him, he didn't return the slander and calumny of the court and those who envied him with threats or boasts or even a defense.  He offered himself to his creation, as a full gift.   

He even worked a miracle of an answered prayer to the pharisee who said, "Come down off that cross that we may believe."  and three days later, He did.  Who is to say that the man who spoke those words to Christ, didn't come to see, Jesus did exactly what he asked, and thus turn his heart toward God?   

My facebook feed started with this beautiful quote: "Nothing is more beautiful than mercy. Mercy can’t be given to someone who deserves it. Mercy is greater than judgment. Any sinner can judge, but it takes a believer to be willing to forgive. Bless your enemies, don't talk about them. If you can do something nice for them, do it. Pray for them." -J. Meyer

I'd never heard of J. Meyer, but I googled her and found her story revealed this quote to be a lived reality. She'd forgiven the person who abused her as a child, and in that forgiveness, found sublime grace.   

Still pondering as I saw other less gentle reminders of why we need Good Friday, outrage, anger, wrath and smugness on my internet feed, I found this achingly beautiful story that once again proves the strongest response to evil, every time, is mercy.

Is it more merciful to bake the cake or to not? It depends upon the discernment, the why one opts to bake or not.  Is it more merciful to stand your ground or shake the dust from your feet and find another store? Again, discernment of the heart.  How am I loving my neighbor as myself? Am I being merciful?  If the answer is no, rethink.

Put another way, can a gay baker refuse to make a cake for a Westboro Baptist Church reception?  I would say, "Yes."  


Can the Catholic florist refuse to supply flowers to Planned Parenthood?  "Yes."  

Can people agree to disagree in a civil society?  They must, in order to have a civil society.

Should the rejected person go out, enlist a twitter mob to rain down social media wrath on someone who speaks out of turn?  "No."  

Should the reporter or the coach or any of the other people who acted in haste and passion but wrongly, be destroyed by the same sort of electronic vendetta mob but from the other side?  "No."

Everybody put down the damn rocks. God desires mercy, not sacrifice.  


Today is the start of the Divine Mercy Novena.  If nothing else, the passion of Spy Wednesday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday, as lived out then and now reveals how much we need to pray for mercy.  So pray for all those in power, all those affected on any side of the issue, pray for all who try to live out their faith life, and for those who advocate for same sex marriage.  Pray for mercy, divine mercy, on all comers.   Pray for mercy, Divine Mercy, on all of us, for we do not deserve it.   





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