July 13-14, 2019

Dear Parish Family,

“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”

He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” Luke 10:36-37

Portia to Shylock , in a line from The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, opines, “the quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.  Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” Strained means “constrained,” or “forced”; the speaker, Portia, is telling Shylock that mercy, having been received, must be freely given, and is inviting him to show mercy to the title character.

The “quality of mercy,” what true mercy looks like and acts like, has unfortunately led to great dispute, arguments and some stalemate.  But how easy it would be, and lazy of us, to argue that we couldn’t agree so, therefore, mercy is subjective and seasonal and conditional and thus often to be left as alone as a wallflower at a junior high dance.  But we are not made nor are we baptized to yield to easy and lazy solutions, our lives were given as gifts of the Creator and meant to be returned in constant giving and perpetual, glad sacrifice to HIM, through generosity and love of others.  But mercy is also difficult because it’s not sentimental indulgence. Oftentimes mercy is severe, demanding and out of our comfort zones. Most of us remember fondly the parents, friends, teachers, mentors, coaches, pastors and confessors who cared enough sometimes to be tough on us to the right degree, at the right moment.  We also carry in our hearts the times when these folks or, perhaps, a would-be vanquisher of ours showed dignity, compassion, mercy and brotherhood when it wasn’t what the world would have expected.

There are significant opportunities to do the “Catholic thing”,  both countercultural and the supernatural, in our society today, by offering mercy as a gift, unstrained, to others as it has been given to you.  Pray about internal attitudes and dispositions which would urge you to qualify someone else as “undeserving” or “unworthy” of the love, kindness and mercy that you have enjoyed.  Remember that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Do good and avoid evil this week!

Fr. John



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