Friday, December 14, 2018 at 10:24 AM
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010718 - Epiphany - Fr. Reggie

In a homily, St Bernard of Clairvaux said that when we look at the Baby Jesus, it’s as though God the Father sent a purse full of his mercy. It was a very small purse, but it was very full. Jesus is that purse of God’s mercy. And we need to receive the money of God’s mercy before we can offer him anything in return. The gospel we just read tells us that the wise men opened their treasures. They opened their hearts to receive Christ’s mercy. From his fullness, we have received mercy. Before the wise men could offer anything, they had to open their treasures. They had to open their history to Jesus; they had to allow his mercy to fill their hearts with joy. They had to experience, as the psalm today put it, that “God shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him… The lives of the poor he shall save.” God’s mercy reveals his reverence for the human person – for each human person - created in his image and likeness.  We need to experience this again and again in our lives. When we experience the merciful love of Jesus, it becomes a gift for others too. We’re able to help them experience the transforming power of God’s mercy, and share it with others.  

Like the wise men, we have received mercy from the fullness of God’s love. 

They tell the story of two soldiers together on the battlefield. In the midst of a firestorm of bullets, one soldier saves the other’s life by stepping in front of him and taking a bullet in his place. As he’s dying, the other man says, “What can I ever do to thank you?” He replies: “Take my dog tags. My name is now yours. My life is yours. Live in a manner worthy of the sacrifice I’ve made for you.”

That’s a glimpse into what Christ did for each one of us on the Cross. He died for us; he took on the fate of our shattered love, as Pope Benedict XVI put it, and he gives us his name and his life.

The greatness of God’s mercy is beyond our grasp; from his fullness, in Christ, we have all received more than we could have ever asked or imagined. 

God wants to fill us with his mercy, and for that to happen, we need to open our treasures to him.

What does that mean? It means, above all, that we learn how to pray. Prayer means opening ourselves to God’s action. It means opening ourselves to his mercy.

We all need to learn how to pray, whether we’ve been praying for 50 years or whether we stopped praying at the age of 5.

Daily prayer fills us with the certainty of being loved by God, and therefore of receiving his infinite mercy. So in this New Year, I encourage everyone to dedicate 10 minutes a day to a conversation with God. Take the Gospel of Matthew and just begin to read a few lines. Stop and think about it. Ask Christ to show you whatever he wants to show you.

If we’re doing this, God’s mercy can begin to flow freely in our lives. 

In the Mass, we’re present at Calvary, where Jesus lays down his life for us. The one sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is made present in real time, here on the altar, each time Mass is celebrated. Christ offers us his name (we are Christians) and his life in the Eucharist. Do we prepare our hearts for this? Let’s do this today. During the offertory, let’s say these words: “Jesus, I want to receive your mercy. Jesus, I want to receive your mercy.”

We’re about to receive the Gift of all gifts. God’s merciful love brings him to give himself to us in the Eucharist. With joy and with gratitude, we prepare to receive him. 

 

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