…scraps of Mercy. 20Aug2017

In the Beatitudes, that memorable discourse found in the Gospel of Matthew and known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pronounces many challenges to Christian living, one of which has special implications for today’s Gospel of Faith. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy” (Mt. 5:7).

Notice the initial reactions of Jesus’ disciples, some of whom may have been those He commissioned as Apostles. They want to send her away. She is not part of the Jewish people to whom the Messiah was promised. She is an outsider, a foreigner and, supposedly, a non-believer. That is the way the disciples see her as they beg Jesus to “send her away.” Much has been said about her Faith and her persistence in it. Even Jesus assures her, “O woman, great is your faith.” She is seen by scripture scholars as a definitive representative of the Gentiles who would come to know Christ and His Good News of salvation through the letters, preaching and travels of St. Paul, but what about the scrap, fallen from the table, that Jesus gives her? Perhaps this little scrap of Mercy is a gem worth closer examination.

Remembering Paul as the one who spread the Gospel to the Gentiles, we can, perhaps, find a key in the final line of today’s second reading, taken from his letter to the Romans. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all. Think about that for amount. There is much to be derived from that sentence but there are two thoughts in particular, I believe, worth our attention.

God delivered all to disobedience. We can easily chide our parents, Adam and Eve, for committing that first sin that separated us all from union with God but are we not all—each and every one of us—guilty of making the same fateful choice, over and over again? We are all “in the same boat.” We may think of ourselves as unique and special and better than others but each of us is like—and no different than—the woman who requests a scrap of God’s Divine Mercy.

That brings us to the second part of Paul’s statement to the Romans, and us: that he might have mercy upon all. We are all in need of God’s Mercy, but it is not automatic. He came specifically for sinners (Mt. 9:13), but I must seek Him as He seeks me. I can give up and turn away or, I can be like the woman, begging for a scrap of His Mercy.

Deacon Richard

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