Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fr. Perrone: When you ask God for mercy, do you offer the same to others?

In the 1962 Missal, today is "Low Sunday" or "Quasimodo Sunday".   I refer you to Father Z for background about Low Sunday, along with additional links below for both "Low Sunday", and "Divine Mercy Sunday", which is what is celebrated in the ordinary form.  Father Perrone chose to write about Divine Mercy in his weekly column.  I tweeted it earlier, and put it up on Facebook where it was quite popular.  Here it is for those who have not read it.

He whose blessed lips pronounced these words is the Divine Mercy, the One in whom we hope today especially for an extraordinary outpouring of mercy. In asking Him to be sparing, indulgent, kindly, forgiving and lenient to us who have ourselves offended and disobeyed Him, we recognize that He has set a condition on us for the reception of His good disposition towards us: we must be merciful ourselves. Many are the ways He taught us this lesson. There is His parable about a man whose debt was liquidated but who in turn was harsh towards his debtor. There is the supreme example of our Lord in His Passion: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Saint Peter, reminding us of our Lord’s sufferings, wrote of our duty in regard to others: “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example....when He was reviled He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten.” Finally there is the teaching from the Sermon on Mount: “When you are offering your gift at the altar...first be reconciled with your brother.” 
Why do I write of this on Divine Mercy Sunday? It is because this is a precept of Christ which is too often forgotten, the precept, namely, that we who seek divine mercy must ourselves be merciful towards others, lest our seeking it be in vain. I suppose this is something we tend easily to overlook in our examination of conscience. Persons there are inevitably who do us injury, who offend us, insult us, deceive us, cheat us, deny us our due, hold us back from our plans, slander us, hate us or for reasons that confound us simply do not like us. Ah! would that all were loving and well disposed towards us! It can’t happen here below in this human battleground wherein we must contend with occult forces that inspire men to inflict injury on others. We have, all of us, enemies, hard as we may try to be loving towards everybody. This sad fact of human life is no respecter of persons liberal or conservative, religious or not, rich or poor. The command of Christ weighs upon His disciples to be merciful to all and to love all, even one’s enemies. The Church has enemies. You have enemies. Are we merciful towards everyone? Do we perhaps want to take vengeance on those who harm us and oppose us? We are certain that we are in the right and that we are being dealt with unfairly. Should we retaliate? 
In writing to you about the obligation to be merciful towards everyone, I am not suggesting that we have no right to defend ourselves, or to take measures to prohibit our opponents from doing us further harm, or to stop the advancement of evil. Rather, I am speaking about something which must exist in the heart of the Christian. In being a Christ-bearer you are not meant to be a cooperator with evil doers, an ‘enabler’ whose goodness and forbearance allows the wicked to increase their crimes. No, you are soldiers of Christ engaged in a warfare directed against invisible, spiritual foes who use weak-minded and weak-willed men as their pawns in their fight against God. Hating sin but loving the human sinner. Christians then must have a hate, must make war. The precept of being merciful prescribes limits and puts conditions on our dealing with our enemies, but it principally directs us to an interior attitude without which we cannot have the hope of receiving mercy from Christ. 
As you can see, my Divine Mercy Sunday message this year has more to do with you than with the devotion we celebrate today. In reality however it is only a matter of emphasis, for both the divine and the human sides in this commerce of mercy are interconnected. 
When you ask Jesus today to dismiss all your sins, to forget them, to wash your mind and heart clean in the bath of His Precious Blood, have a look into your own soul’s attitudes towards your neighbors–all of them–the good and the bad, those who like and dislike you. Be forgiving and you will be forgiven. Divine Mercy Sunday’s gift to you is freedom. 
Fr. Perrone

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