Mercy and Tears

There are some things we see most clearly through tears or after we have wept, and often the mercy shown us enables us to recognize what formerly was dim or distant. Mary Magdalene sees the Risen Christ through her tears, hears the word of mercy addressed to her and recognizes Jesus as her Teacher. Today’s Mass readings place us in the same dynamic. Sorrow turns to joy even as all hope appears gone. Isaiah’s vision of the Lord wiping away the tears from every cheek and furnishing his people with a rich banquet (Is 25. 6–10) becomes in the gospel Jesus healing the sick and providing an abundant meal (Matt 15.29–37). In both we see echoes of the Eucharist and of the Heavenly Banquet to come at the end of time. At their core, though, are those two elements: the experience of pain, hopelessness even, and the experience of mercy, of what the Bible calls ‘salvation’.

Advent is a time of joyful preparation, but it still makes demands on us. We see our sin through our tears: which means we see how far we have fallen short of the glory of God. That might make us despair were it not for the way God invites us to something better. He invites us to accept forgiveness and mercy in the person of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are to become a new creation and walk upright where formerly we were bent over under the weight of our own wrongdoing. In short, we are to be sons in the Son.

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4 thoughts on “Mercy and Tears”

  1. So well put, Sr Catherine, and thank you. It calls to mind the Gospel account of the sinner’s prayer in the Temple as contrasted with the ‘righteous’ prayer of the Pharisee.

    The first and last thing we can do in all situations, whatever size the perspective, is to cast ourselves on the Mercy of God. It requires a humble heart. All part, as I see it, of the renewing of the face of the earth, and the renewing of the face of our lives.

  2. Thank you.

    On a day, when I’m fearing that the Government is planning to take us down a road that might lead to a huge escalation of conflict, where innocent lives will certainly be lost, today’s readings are somehow a lift to me for more prayer and hope.

    Hope is the thing that helps me to maintain some form of stability in my life and faith. Someone asked me a question yesterday about Christian’s advertising (in the context of the CofE’s Lord’s Prayer advert being banned). The person, who runs a Christian Cafe and Bookshop is from another denomination and had a genuine interest. He asked did our Parish advertise? I could only say that we do so, by Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as well and widely as we’re able. That’s fitting for tomorrow, in the absence of our Vicar and Curate, I am to be privileged to lead a service, where I will preaching on St Francis Xavier – whose feast day falls (in our Calendar) tomorrow. His example of preaching the Gospel to the East Indies, in particular in Japan is quite inspiration. Faithful service in a mission, which can’t have been easy, but when he left Japan, he is said to have left about 2000 converts. Oh that our Good news could bring so many to faith – which is where hope comes in. God be praised.

    • At our midday mass tomorrow I will hold you in my prayers – that you will lead the service in grace and love, as I’m sure you will!

      Thank you Sr Catherine….the idea of standing straight in the new creation is an encouraging thought.

  3. Now we are too infirm to go to church, I often read the Gospel of the day for my wife on Sundays and I find my eyes frequently tear-up, not with sadness, but with an excess of emotion. I also find this with many of your links, Dame Catherine, thank you.

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