Never Tiring of Receiving and Sharing God’s Mercy, Feast of St. Patrick, March 17, 2014

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Our Lady of Wisdom Parish, Lafayette, LA
Monday of the Third Week of Lent
Memorial of St. Patrick
March 17, 2014
Dan 9:4-10, Ps 79, Lk 6:36-38

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below:

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Today in the readings God continues to give us the help he knows we need for a full conversion this Lent. In the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Daniel, we see Daniel’s prayer to the Lord while the Jews were in exile in Babylon, as he sought to understand what the Lord had said through Jeremiah about the destruction of Jerusalem and the length of the exile. With a deep spirit of contrition and reparation, he cried out, “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil. We have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws. We have not obeyed your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name. … We are shamefaced even to this day … for having sinned against you. We rebelled against you and paid no heed to your command … to live by the law you gave us.” But within Daniel’s prayer, we also see his confidence in God’s mercy, the confidence that led the Psalmist and all of us to cry out several times today, “Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.” Daniel reminded the Lord, “You keep your covenant of mercy toward those who love you and observe your commandments! … Yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!” “Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name’s sake,” the Psalmist adds.
  • We see the fulfillment of that prayer for mercy in the Gospel when Jesus, from the Sermon on the Plain, tells us that God is merciful and calls us to be merciful just like our Father in heaven is merciful. He calls us to repent from the sins of judging and condemning others and to forgive them. The way we have the grace to do this is precisely by experiencing the merciful love of God. The more we recognize how much we’ve been forgiven, how enriched we have been by the compassion of the Lord, the easier it is for us to share that wealth of mercy with others.
  • This morning in his daily Mass in the Vatican, Pope Francis talked about how we can grow in this ability to be merciful as our Father is merciful. He says that we need two attitudes. The first is “self-knowledge,” that “we are sinners” who “have done many bad things.” Such self-knowledge leads to humility and “with this attitude of penitence we are more able to be merciful, because we feel within us the mercy of God.” The second attitude we need is a “big heart.” To be merciful, we need to have a generous heart that continues to expand in love “forgiving others” because of the compassion we feel for them because, understanding our own sins and failings, we can better understand others’ flaws and weaknesses.” When we extend mercy in this way, then in response, he says, we will receive mercy, “a good measure, pressed down and overflowing will be poured into [our] lap.” The more we give mercy, the bigger our apron to receive that good mercy. The measure of our mercy is the measure of our capacity to receive God’s.
  • Today we celebrate St. Patrick, the Patron of Ireland. I’ve always been moved that after he was freed by a vision from six years of slavery in Ireland as a boy and returned to his native Scotland, he felt impelled on the inside to be trained as a priest so that he could return there to spread the faith in the language he had learned after he was kidnapped and sold into servitude. When he returned several years later, one of the first things he did was to go to his slave owner, to pay the full ransom for his escape, and magnanimously to forgive him. St. Patrick’s most famous prayer is his “breastplate” or “lorica,” words he wrote on a piece of clothing and wore under his clothes above his heart. The most famous line of that lorica is his prayer, “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.” Christ is the incarnation of the mercy of the Father and hence this prayer could easily be retranslated begging God’s mercy to be with me, within me, behind me, before me, beside me, beneath me, above me, in quiet, in danger, and likewise in the hearts of friend and stranger.” God’s mercy envelops us in an abyss of love, but God wants us, like St. Patrick, to interiorize that mercy.
  • One year ago today, in his first Sunday Angelus meditation, Pope Francis said words I heard live in St. Peter’s Square and will never be able to forget for the rest of my life. “The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking his forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace not to tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving.” God never tires of extending his merciful love toward us and he wants us never to tire not only of asking for it but of sharing that mercy with others. Today through the intercession of St. Patrick, we ask God to grant us that grace so that his mercy in response to our sins may be the defining reality of our life and that, like him, we may never tire of measuring out that same indefatigable mercy to others!

The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1
DN 9:4B-10

“Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets.”

Responsorial Psalm
PS 79:8, 9, 11 AND 13

R. (see 103:10a) Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

Gospel
LK 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”