- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

February 23, 2017

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO [1]

7th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Polycarp
Sirach 5: 1-8; Mark 41-50

Today’s reading from Sirach affords us an opportunity to ponder the difference between trusting in God’s mercy and presuming upon it. Recall the ancient sage’s admonition: “Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin” (sir. 5:6). As children of the kingdom, we are to walk confidently in the presence of the Holy One Who is just. Overwhelmed by the loving attention of the Lord, we throw ourselves down before Him and plead for mercy. Clinging to His feet, we are granted a moment of insight. We can no longer go on living life according to our appetites but must surrender to His love and will for us.

In His mercy, Jesus calls out to each and every one of us: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mat. 11: 28-30). But in His justice, He waits for us to reply. Like the younger son in Luke’s parable, we need to come to our senses and admit that our lives are out of control and that we have wandered into foreign territory. In addition to this, we need to get back on the path and set out on the journey home (CF. Luke 15: 17-24).

God’s justice demands that we admit our abject misery. Trusting in His mercy, we have confidence that the door will always be open to us upon our return. This moment of light is the springboard of our conversion. When we find ourselves lost in a far-off land, we need to ponder the words of John the Baptist: “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is close at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Responding to the voice, echoing in our hearts: “Come home! Come back to me,” let us return to the One Who calls us. And let us not stop until we find our resting place in His outstretched arms.

If you hear that voice, don’t ignore it. It is the call of love, inviting you to emerge from the valley of darkness and walk in the light of life. We have wandered in the land of unlikeness long enough. Let us return to the One who created us in His image and likes. We have reason to be confident because we are never beyond the reach of God’s mercy. The season of Lent will soon be upon us. It is a time of grace for us to uncover our festering sores and seek out the Physician of our Souls. Like the man with leprosy, we can pray: “Lord, if you want to, you can make me whole” (CF. Mat. 8:2). And like him we will hear the response, “Of course I want to! Be whole” (CF. Mat. 8:3). To be made whole, we must commend ourselves to His mercy and compassion. Perhaps, in the process, we can open the door for others to find experience God’s healing love.