21Yesterday was a day of firsts. It was my first full day as a deacon, my first Sunday as a deacon, my first time proclaiming the Gospel, my first time giving a homily at Mass, my first day assisting at Mass as a deacon, and the first time a Mass was offered for me as a deacon. It was also the first day I was addressed as “Deacon Scott” by so many wonderful Holy Ghost parishioners.

I was overwhelmed by the many kind words I received about both my homily and my assignment at the parish. I am so blessed to be part of this community.

My Homily on God’s Mercy
June 12, 2016

Readings: 2 Sm 12:7-10, 13  ✠  Ps 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11  ✠  Gal 2:16, 19-21  ✠  Lk 7:36—8:3 or 7:36-50
Dear Friends (and Family),

14Now that we’re halfway through the Year of Mercy, I think it would be a good idea to honestly ask ourselves: “How am I doing?” Does my life feel any more mercy-full? Perhaps your resolve to be more open to God’s mercy and to extend it to others in this holy year has fizzled somewhat in light of the day-to-day responsibilities and concerns we all have. Today I’d like to encourage you to take some time to reflect on God’s mercy and better understand how we’re each called to respond to it.

Today’s readings provide wonderful insight into the nature of this mercy. Pope John Paul II defined mercy as “God’s love as it impacts our need, our weaknesses, our difficulties, and our sins.” Mercy is a special aspect of God’s love. It is his love as it encounters our needs and the needs of the whole world.

In today’s first reading David had just committed two VERY serious sins, adultery and murder. Today’s story takes place after David had an affair with the wife of one of his leading soldiers and effectively had this soldier murdered in battle by sending him to the front lines so his adultery would not be discovered. When Nathan, a prophet of God, confronted David with these sins, David expressed his sincere sorrow for what he had done.

In fact, he wrote Psalm 51 in response to his sins, where he prayed “Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.” Yes, David understood his need for God’s mercy. He knew he needed God’s love to impact his sinfulness.

And how did God respond to David’s act of contrition? He offered him forgiveness. THIS is God’s mercy, his love in the face of David’s sin. David had committed both adultery and murder, yet he was forgiven because he was truly sorry for these sins.

How about today’s Gospel reading? Again we witness God’s mercy as Jesus encounters this sinful woman who is so sorry for her sins that she washes his feet with her tears and drys them with her hair. She showed great love for Jesus in this act and also demonstrated great faith in his mercy.

How did Jesus react to her? Did he accuse her of her sins as the Pharisee did? No, he loved her and he forgave her many sins. This forgiveness was a demonstration of his mercy, his love for her as it impacted her need, her sinfulness.

10When we reflect on God’s mercy, we come to understand that he is always with us and only desires to help us. When we begin to understand God’s mercy we begin to understand the depth of God’s love for us, particularly in the face of our needs and our sinfulness.

God loves his people so much that he sent his only son into the world to take on our humanity so he could have an impact on our weakness, our needs, our sinfulness. Jesus offered his life for us in order to take away the sins of the world.

In today’s second reading St. Paul tells us to live by FAITH in the Son of God. We must TRUST in God’s mercy, offered to us by Jesus. We must never despair when we sin. We must recognize our sin for what it is and trust that God in his mercy will forgive us and restore us to a state of grace.

No matter how terrible we might think our sins are, and no matter how often we commit them, God will forgive us. There is nothing he is unwilling to forgive as long as we are truly sorry for what we have done and make a sincere effort not to sin again.

Will we sin again? The odds are very high we will, but when we do, we return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confess our sins, promise to do our best to avoid committing them again and receive his wonderful mercy.

Now listen up. This is important. Never, ever, think that you have committed an unforgivable sin! No matter what you have done, or failed to do, have faith in God’s mercy and approach him in the confessional with a contrite heart and all your sins will be forgiven!

There is one more VERY important thing to know about God’s mercy. There is a price to pay for it. Yes, there is a price to pay. The price for God’s mercy is that we must be merciful to others as God has been merciful to us. We must begin to understand other people and their problems. We MUST be willing to forgive others in the same way that we wish to be forgiven by God.

It simply doesn’t work for us to expect to receive God’s forgiveness when we are unwilling to forgive our neighbor. We must let go of our grudges and our anger toward others so we can receive God’s forgiveness ourselves.

Every time we recite the Lord’s Prayer we are reminded of this important commandment to forgive others when we pray “forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are forgiven according to the same measure we forgive others. How can we expect to receive God’s mercy if we are unwilling to show mercy to others?

So, as you’re preparing to receive Holy Communion today, I want you to ask God not only to have mercy on you, but also that you would receive the grace to have mercy on all those who have trespassed against you. The mercy we receive from God must be offered to everyone who hurts us. No exceptions.

We ALL need God’s mercy. May the remainder of this Year of Mercy be a time for us to trust more fully in this mercy and continue to learn how to extend it to others. May we always remember how much Jesus loves us and know for certain that there is NOTHING he will not forgive when we are truly sorry for our sins.

God bless you.

Photos from the 10:00 Mass
Stephanie Richer shot some great photos throughout the 10:00 Mass on Sunday. She has graciously allowed me to share them here with you. You’ll find them all beneath the text of my homily.

Photos by Stephanie Richer Photography. Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved.