Saturday is, need I tell you, St.Patrick's Day. Sunday, when we surface, will be Laetare Sunday. Two days, these two days, are given over to celebration, during the Season of Lent. Laetare means, to celebrate. The first is a choice, the second is a necessity. We have been on a hard and difficult journey into the desert of our lives. There we have had to again encounter our demons, our shadow side. This is not easy. Neither was it for Jesus. As He was confronted with the Diabolos, the divider, He was also provided with the "ministering of angels". We, too, have to face the great Divider, the great Prosecutor. His relentless efforts are directed towards the goal of getting us to reject who we are and as a result settle for less. Jesus was tempted to deny His Humanity and so become irrelevant. His temptation was to flaunt His divinity, at the price of His humanity. This would have placed Him outside the human experience. The Incarnation, His coming as the enfleshment of God, would have been a waste of time. “He became like unto us in all things, except sin" and He sacrificed His life for us sinners. We are tempted to deny our humanity, our sinfulness, our need for God and claim that we ourselves are God. When we claim we are by our nature self-sufficient and can live our lives independent of everyone and everything we are listening to the voice of the Deceiver. We buy into the false message the lie, are so are cut off, divided from The Source of all our strength.
We have heard that old adage and it is so true here, "Divide and destroy". We have a choice to make. We make this choice each and every moment of each and every day. There is never a moment this drama in not being acted out in our lives. There is no respite in this spiritual war being waged in the depths of our souls. Here is the choice, are we going to listen to the voices of division, deceit, and prosecution, or are we going to listen to the voice that calls out, unceasingly, to each one of us “You are my beloved daughter/son, In each one of us He IS well pleased?". How often do we take the time out just to reflect on and celebrate in some way this, our deepest reality. Our God is ever and always pleased with us, not because we are good, but because He is the essence of goodness and we are His beloved. It is essential we have some presence, male or female, who mirrors that reality. If that is not our experience then it will be more difficult for us to believe that reality and live out our lives accordingly. That difficulty is sometimes overcome by grace.
Another way of understanding grace is , "God's love in action". Our God has this fundamental commitment to us sinners. We call that mercy. At mass we hear those Greek words, sung repeatedly, Kyrie Eleison, what are we doing? We are crying out to experience the mercy of God. What does this word mercy mean?
The word in English is the translation of the Greek word eleos. This word has the same ultimate root as the old Greek word for oil, or precisely, olive oil; a substance which was used extensively as a soothing agent for bruises and minor wounds. The oil was poured into the wound and gently massaged in, thus soothing, comforting and making whole the wounded part. The Hebrew word which is also translated as eleos and mercy is hesed, and means steadfast love. The Greek words for " Lord have mercy", are Kyrie Elison- that is to say, "Lord sooth me, comfort me, take away my pain, show me Your steadfast love." Thus the mercy does not refer so much to justice and acquittal-a very western interpretation-but to the infinite loving- kindness of God, and His compassion for His suffering children! It is in this sense that we pray "Lord have mercy" with great frequency...."
Does not the above, provide, both you and I, a real profound reason to celebrate. We have been endowed with that certain something, grace, that brings to to be able to call out to our gracious God, I am in such a desperate need for your soothing, comforting love. This can be our prayer; I have listened to that other voice and it deceived me into thing you were so awe-ful I would never be able to earn or deserve your love again. I bought the lie, that my sin was too heinous in your sight, that I could not believe you would have understanding and compassion for one such as me. I felt I was not good enough for you. You want all of us to be as perfect as Your Son was. Even though He was like us He never sinned. That shame has led me to places where I made every effort to Hide from you. For you there is no dark place for me to hide. All is light for you. In the end Your light overcame the prison of darkness and I was able to once more walk in and bask in the rays of Your love. I am now free to enjoy, again, Your loving presence. The road has been long and rocky.
The desert has been harsh, barren and threatening. You have used my tears so that desert now, blooms and blossoms, with the beauty of new life and new understanding. Out of the desert one emerges with a new freedom. A freedom that comes with a deeper understanding of Your soothing, comforting love? Lord I now see, it was good to go into the wasteland and come to know You are you really are, not Who I thought you to be. You have lead me to a greater freedom and in that freedom I choose to celebrate.