Sunday, April 23, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday

It's Divine Mercy Sunday.   A day on which Catholics genuinely express their belief in the immense and astounding mercy of God.  Many believe today that the graces of Heaven pour out on the earth in a way that reminds us how great our God is.  The readings for today often promote people to talk about 'Doubting Thomas' and his experience of God's mercy.   I want to talk though about something different.   To talk instead about one of the aspects that many don't want to speak about, what it means for us to have received God's mercy.   What?   Why would anyone not want to talk about that?  Because receiving God's mercy should make us painfully aware that as Christians we are called to show that same mercy to others.... especially those we have hurt ourselves.

I saw a writing someone wrote about me a few years ago.   It was on the floor and I am sure not meant for my eyes.   It was hard to read.   I put it back and walked away angry.   Not at them for writing it.   At me for it being mostly true.  I was not, and still, today am often not, a good example of mercy and love.  There are those who will say the Church is full of hypocrites so don't go.   I would rather say if the Church were not full of hypocrites we would have no need of a savior.   A measure of someone's faith is not how perfectly they follow it, but how well they respond when they fail.  Yes, I should be getting better.   I will always make mistakes.  I am a sinner just like everyone else.   I can't use that as an excuse though.  My mistakes are my own, and I should own up to them.   My response is Confession.   I go often, not because I am better than others, but precisely because I am not.

I lose my temper.   I misunderstand others when they talk.  I am quick to begin speaking before others have spoken their full.  I correct when I should listen.   I reprimand often without hearing the fullness of what I am reprimanding for.   I know that.   I hopefully am getting better at it.   If God, though, can forgive each and every person fully, and me for all my sins... how then can I who claim to be trying to be like God not do the same?  An important point though is that just going to Confession doesn't fix those you've hurt.  A broken plate on the floor doesn't jump back to the table fixed when you say you are sorry, nor does God's forgiveness mean that man will forgive you as well.

It's still up to us to change.  To apologize when appropriate.  To go further than that though and address the behavior that created the need to apologize.   A Christian may not look so much like Christ now... and maybe even near his/her death bed.. but they should resemble Him more and more as their life goes on.  It is not instant for most of us.   It's a lifelong process of conversion.  It requires us though to take a step, and another.. and another... as St. Paul said, run the race.   Sometimes I feel like I'm on that last mile of a marathon and my legs are super heavy.. and I just have to struggle to get through the sludge of my own weakness.  That's when it's most important.

So here it comes... The part I dread but I think is so important on this day of all days:

I am sorry.

For all the times I have not listened when you tried to speak to me.  I am sorry.

For all the times I yelled instead of showing you understanding and hope.  I am sorry.

For those nights when I set an example that was contrary to what is holy.  I am sorry.

For the days when you needed a hug or to hear the words I love you, and instead, you got grilled the moment you came in the door.   I am sorry.

For every time I have let you down.  I am sorry.

For every time I have gone to Mass and didn't invite you, or to Confession without extending the opportunity to you.  I am sorry.

For every time you've spoken and I have interrupted you, instead of practicing the redemptive listening skill I am trained to use.  I am sorry.

For every other thing, I've done, especially those things I am completely unaware of having hurt you by and should know that it has hurt you, I am sorry.

For every time I myself doubted, though I had seen with my own soul the truth of the Church and its teachings, I am sorry.

Julie, Haley, Hannah, Sarah and Moira most of all, who see me at my worst.  The ones who live with me and know me better than anyone else.  For not being the husband, step dad, father and friend that I should be, for that I am sorry.

I am not going to get better overnight unless God grants me some supernatural graces... ones which I pray for often... but I am trying.

His servant and yours,

Brian Mullins

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for Divine Mercy Sunday: April 23, 2017