A Merciful Heart
(26th Ordinary Sunday: Amos 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31)
We enter into our reflection with today’s Entrance Antiphon: “All that you have done to us, O Lord, you have done with true judgment, for we have sinned against you and not obeyed your commandments. But give glory to your name and deal with us according to the bounty of your mercy.”
Without getting too technical about word origins, we can state that mercy means compassion or, in more poetic terms, a heart for the poor, the afflicted and the sinner. It is at the core of today’s readings, and of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette.
The first reading and the gospel are focused on a great evil: the failure to show mercy. Both describe persons who live complacently in their own world of pleasure, with no concern for the suffering of others. Their doom is therefore sealed.
In the second reading, Paul, acting as Timothy’s coach and spiritual director, calls him a man of God, and writes, “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” These must include mercy.
The Merciful Mother of La Salette had a heart for the afflicted sinner. Her people were suffering on account of their sins. She came to show that they could obtain mercy by returning to the Lord and his Church.
There is an image in the gospel that caught our attention in a particular way. The rich man, from his place of punishment, cries out, “Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.”
It was too late for him, but it is not too late for us to offer a drop of La Salette water, figuratively speaking, through our ministry and prayer, to those who thirst for human and divine kindness.
This thought takes on a much deeper meaning when we apply it to God. A single drop of mercy from the finger of God brings coolness and a release from the suffering. A drop of Jesus’ blood, given to us in the Eucharist, can restore us to God’s favor. Let us never be complacent about our participation in the Mass.
And let us desire to have a heart for afflicted sinners, to be agents of God’s mercy where and as we can.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.