Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grace and Mercy

This has been a most challenging day for me, the kind that we all get once in a while.

During my prayer time this morning, several passages struck me, including the Gospel today, where Mark wrote this about the Lord: "He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, 'Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.'"

And this from the letter of James, which became my FB status for a while:

"But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind." (Jas 1:6, NAB)

Ask in faith. Don't seek a sign. I repeated this to myself over and over on my way to work. During the day, I had to face consequences of past mistakes, and to put myself at the mercy of others. If the letter of the law were to be applied, I would probably have been made to suffer more for my actions. I agonized over it the whole day, even as I went about my work and fulfilled my duties. I reminded myself to ask in faith, and to believe, not doubt. The wind would attempt to toss me about but I should remain steady.

Yet, guilt and fear gripped me. I was hard on myself, meting out the sentence already in my head. Then one word kept repeating in my head, as if whispered by a silent voice: Mercy. With mercy, I would not have to suffer the fate I was resigned to according to my own set of strict rules. I needed God's mercy. I needed to ask other people for mercy.

What did I do? I asked God for a sign. I always resort to this when my faith is at its thinnest, like it was earlier today. I begged God for assurance that He would show His mercy upon me and spare me from further pain.

He didn't have to do it, but God granted my request. I heard the word "mercy" from a friend tonight. I was shocked, and let the shock work through my little faith.

I would not know how to explain grace and mercy, but I have experienced it in my life. So many times, I deserved to be punished for misbehaving, but instead I had received nothing but kindness, goodness, and generosity.

Guess what, upon my return home and to FB, I saw this posted as the Word Among Us status:

How many are your mercies, O God - mercies yesterday and today, and at every moment of my life, from before my birth, from before time itself began! I am plunged deep in mercies - I drown in them; they cover me, wrapping me around every side. -Venerable Charles de Foucauld

This described my whole experience today. I was amazed; simply amazed. Despite the word not to ask for a sign, I still did. Even with my recidivism and habitual delinquency, I received pardon and mercy. The pill was not as bitter as I thought it ought to be.

If we were to use our human standards to judge ourselves, we would all perish. But God's grace is enough for us. Jesus' sacrifice has saved us. His mercy is from age to age; everlasting; abundant. These are not words I recite from memory, but are so real to me.

I do not deserve this, but I thank you, Lord. Thank you for letting me personally experience your grace and mercy, and for working through my little faith. Help me to remember all these tomorrow, and to focus on faith, grace, and mercy instead of fear, guilt, and pride. Amen.

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