Mercy – defined as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm”. The readings this weekend focus on mercy. The first reading in Sirach instructs us to forgive our neighbors so that our own injustices may be pardoned; the second reading reminds us that in both life and death we belong to God. The gospel reading is a parable of forgiveness. How does is feel to forgive someone? How does is feel to be forgiven? It seems now more than ever lately our society is focused on self rather than others let alone forgiveness. Some refuse to wear masks and lately, personally I have encountered ridiculously dangerous driving. I’m not so eager to be forgiving when cars come flying out of nowhere putting many lives at risk. And yet we are called to forgive.
Church is not a place for perfect people but rather a place where all of us imperfect people can gather to pray for ourselves and each other, a place where we can lift others up as we are being lifted up ourselves. For that reason, our opening song is Marty Haugen’s Gather Us In. “Here in this place a new light is streaming, now is the darkness vanished away. See in this space our fears and our dreamings, brought here to you in the light of the days. Gather us in, the lost and forsaken. Gather us in, the blind and the lame. Call to us now, and we shall a waken, we shall arise at the sound of our name.” The responsorial psalm reminds us that ‘the Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in compassion.’ The hymn for the setting of the table has become one of my favorites during these past few months. Randomly I will begin to hum this tune and the words come back to me like a prayer in my heart. Open My Eyes reminds me of the choruses from Taize. Here is the text – Open my eyes Lord. Help me to see your face. Open my eyes Lord. Help me to see (2nd verse) Open my ears Lord. Help me to hear your voice. Open my ears Lord – help me to hear. (3rd verse) Open my heart, Lord. Help me to love like you. Open my heart Lord. Help me to love. Bridge: And the first shall be last and our eyes are opened and we’ll hear like never before. And we’ll speak in new ways, and we’ll see God’s face in places, we’ve never known. (4th verse is now God responding to us) I live within you, deep in your heart, O Love. I live within you. Rest now in me. In this song, I understand St. Augustine’s comment that to sing is to pray twice. This song opens my heart to God as this is often my prayer.
If you are attending mass in person, for communion we will use Bob Hurd’s Ubi caritas. The Latin refrain is especially beautiful translated as ‘where there is charity – God is present’. This reminds us God is present with us each and every time we extend charity to others. Many times I try to choose closing songs that sum up the message we are to leave with in our heart. This week it is “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”. Love conquers fear; light conquers dark and the King of Love is our shepherd. In my pursuit of a musical career, I always strove to study and work with the absolute best people in the field. In our pursuit to a fruitful, productive life, we are already linked to the source of love. The text of this song reminds us: ”The King of love my shepherd is, whose goodness fails me never. I nothing lack, if I am his, and he is mine forever.” There is no better consolation for these trying times. Until we can sing and pray together again, may you be blessed!