Saint Patrick, Bishop
Daniel 9:4-10; Psalm 79:8-9, 11, 13;Luke 6:36-38
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
Why does a girl imitate her mother? The mother certainly hopes that it comes from a natural desire to be like her. But what if the girl were just doing it because she was frightened of her mother or because she wanted to get something from her?
We could misread today’s Gospel as a call to be something like this misguided child. We should be merciful, forgiving, and generous with other people so that God will then be merciful, forgiving, and generous with us. Of course, the reverse is never far from our minds either: if we are not all of these things, God will refuse to act that way with us. So it’s in our best interests to be good.
But to read the passage this way is to overlook an important verse: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Jesus isn’t just giving us a set of rules for how we have to relate to other people. And he certainly isn’t trying to extort kindness out of us with the threat of hell if we fail. He is telling us about himself. He is telling us how God relates to us so that we will know how we are meant to relate to the people around us. Our Father is merciful, slow to anger, forgiving, and generous. And since that is his nature, that’s what we will grow up to become as we mature in Christ. It’s in our spiritual DNA, so to speak!
If we reduce these verses to a list of things that we need to do to keep God happy and stay out of trouble, we miss out on the joy of becoming more like our Father. We miss out, in fact, on the very thing we were created for.
Always keep this in mind: you are not here to follow rules! God doesn’t want robots. He wants children. That means that you are here to do the things that Jesus did—both the miraculous and the everyday. As you learn how to show mercy just as Jesus showed mercy, you will be doing something that is both miraculous and everyday. And the witness of your mercy, generosity, and charity will grab people’s attention and turn them to the Lord.
“Father, mark me as your child by making me look more and more like you.”
Daniel 9:4-10; Psalm 79:8-9, 11, 13