Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Persuaded by Mercy and Grace

By Beth DeCristofaro

Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth.  Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit. (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

(The Rich Man) said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.' But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.' He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'" (Luke 16:27-31)

Be merciful, O Lord, for I have sinned.  (Psalm 51)

We have Abraham, our father in faith.  We have Jesus, the Risen Christ who walked our earth and walks every day with us.  But we also have stock portfolios, entrepreneurial incubators, prosperity theology, Tinder and Instagram, luxury vehicles, botox, abs, extreme adventures, millionaire quarterbacks/goalies/centers,  rival liturgy styles, signature martinis, over-the-counter and street drugs, career ladders, vacation homes and more. Are we so busy, distracted, addicted that we do not see Lazarus?

Our spiritual journey lies in recognizing that a Lazarus lies within us.  Allowing him to inform our lives bridges the chasm between the barrenness of the desert and the greening of God’s grace within. Sr Maria Boulding wrote about the experience of inner poverty: “(God) wants to open us wider to the reality of his salvation … Repentance is an attitude of continual conversion of heart and it is a poverty, because it means always beginning again, never being able to rely on past successes or attained positons after the manner of the rich, but always admitting your need of God’s mercy.”[i]

Read the Gospel several times and put yourself at the bottom of the rich man’s steps with Lazarus.  Just how difficult is imaginary poverty?  Can you feel your soul cry out for God’s waters?  Can you visualize your deep need?  Can you find a relation to those who are truly – not imagined - impoverished but, like you, are children of God?  Repent!  Turn again and convert.

[i] From  The Coming of God” quoted in “Give us this Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholics”, Liturgical Press, March 2017, p. 93.

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