Saturday, 31 December 2016

Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas - 31 December

Readings: 1 John 2:18-21; Psalm 96; John 1:1-18

God has shown mercy by forgiving us our sins. But forgiveness is not God's only mercy. The whole work of God is merciful. Creation itself flows from the generous love and mercy of God. It is already a work of mercy, God taking pity on what was not in order to bring it into being. Creation itself is a sharing in God's own existence, life, wisdom, and love. God need not have created us and that he did so is a generous gift. Creation comes about through God's kind purposes.

God's kind purposes fashion this world and guide its history. Those same kind purposes call us to live with God and to share a happiness beyond our dreams. Those kind purposes shared with the people of Israel the gifts of God's wisdom and law. His kind purposes came to a climax at Christmas with the birth of Jesus - the Word, and wisdom, and law, of God. Jesus of Nazareth is God's kind purpose in person.

Mercy means gift or grace, something received through sheer generosity. The coming of Jesus is all about this generosity:

From his fulness we have,
all of us, received - 
yes, grace in return for grace (John 1:14).

The Latin word for mercy is misericordia which refers both to pity and to the heart. Mercy is a compassion that is heartfelt, and Jesus comes from the heart of God:

No one has ever seen God;
it is the only Son
who is nearest to the Father's heart,
who has made him known (John 1:18).

All we know about love tells us that love will be merciful. All we know about love tells us that love will be kind and generous. All we know about love confirms that it is experienced as unearned and freely given. All we know about love tells us that it is about a union of hearts.

Love and mercy would remain merely a wonderful but impossible dream were it not for Christ Jesus. He has fought his way past the enemies of love, past selfishness, despair, sickness, sin, and death. At the end it was not a pretty sight, this child born in simplicity and joy who died in blood and tears on the cross. But this was still God working out his kind purposes and the victory of divine mercy. It was the triumph of God's grace and generosity over all the stinginess, egotism, pride, cruelty, deceit, and fear (the weapons of the Antichrist) that can be marshalled against it.

God's kind purpose is that the human heart - healed and set free - should be made one with the heart of God. the infinite splendour of God's mercy shines through the broken heart of the child born at Christmas, that child in whose heart God and the human being are for all time made one in love.

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