I love children's Liturgies. The unexpected must always be expected. They, not like other liturgies, have a certain innate messiness that is always to be accepted and embraced. That has always been my mindset as I began the celebration of "the little darlings" Masses. If I had any other thoughts then I was in a bad place, and the celebration was not as nourishing. There was a certain rigidity present that somehow took away from the celebration. I had to have a certain mindset to really be able to celebrate with the kids.
I have always made a point of asking the children if they had any questions for me. There is always a great risk involved here. You cannot, and I mean cannot, program those questions. That is why it can be scary. You see kids are honest. I have found out that the younger the child, the deeper the question, and the more honest it is. Recently, I had the school mass at St. John Bosco. After my "FEW" word I said the usual, "any questions for me today?" One little fellow came up with this brilliant question; “How come God gives us chance after chance, and our parents do not?" Boy does he have the Mercy, and Compassion of God, down real pat. How many of us have that mind set? I am sad to say from my experience not too many. As a result, we live our lives in the prisons of guilt, fear, and shame. We live there by choice, not because of anything God has said or done. We spend our whole lives wishing to live in the freedom that is God's merciful, dream, Ashling, for us. When it is offered to us we fight the gift. Why? The gift will force us to live in a new way. We have become so comfortable living in crap, we are afraid to let go of the familiar and embrace this new way of real living. What we thought was "life", was really the work of illusion, and hence was not life affirming. How dearly we hang onto the illusions, and never get to embrace reality, hence never knowing the reality of God. God can only be found in the deepest reality.
This weekend is Divine Mercy weekend. To build on what was written a few weeks ago, we can say this is a further journey into how to enjoy “the shower” of the oil of God's mercy. (I wonder how many have taken the advice given?). Now it is going to get better. That is the mind set we have to have when dealing with God. No matter how He has blessed us, there are better things awaiting us. What is awaiting us, an ever deepening share in His Resurrected life. But, beware that ever deepening participation in His Risen life will only come as a result of an ever deepening emersion into His suffering and passion. That is a great source of, not happiness, but joy. Whatever we suffer we have that innate joy in knowing this IS our personal participation in The Paschal Mystery. Like all spiritual mysteries they cannot be solved only reverenced, and celebrated. In the celebration of The Paschal Mystery, which is the mass, the feelings of joy are intensified. All suffering, all death, is the threshold we must pass through so as to reach our destiny. We all have to make the difficult choice as to whether we want the security of power, and control, or the freedom to travel the journey into uncertainty? This latter is the journey of faith.
This week we get to add the qualities of Shalom, which Peace, to our reservoir from which all our showers of grace originate. Just like the word mercy has layer upon layer of meaning, so does Shalom. To translate this word by using just peace, is to sell it and so ourselves very, very short. To wish a person Shalom. is to wish them, completeness, contentment, wholeness, a sense of well being, and harmony. It also carries with it the following, tranquility, fullness, rest, absence of agitation or discord. Shalom also means to be complete, perfect and full. Wow!!, what depth of meaning goes with that word. Is it then any wonder that infinite God has to be the origin and the source of such gifts. Now when we add all of what is offered this week, to the blessings of mercy, we are really blessed. We do not have to earn, deserve, or qualify for the infinite Marcy-full, Shalom of our gracious God. All we have to do is accept the gift offered, and so be caught up in the passionate embrace of our Prodigal God, and lover. If this was so easy and common I wonder why Henri Nouwen wrote the following;
“God's mercy is greater than our sins. there is an awareness of sin that does not lead to God but to self-pre-occupation. Our temptation is to be so impressed be our by our sins and failings, and so overwhelmed by our lack of generosity that we get stuck in a paralyzing guilt. It is the guilt that says, "I am too sinful to deserve God's mercy." It is the guilt that leads to introspection instead of directing our eyes to God. It is a guilt that has become an idol and therefore a form of pride....The question is: Are we like Judas, who was so overcome by his sin that he could not believe in God's mercy any longer and hanged himself, or we like Peter who returned to the Lord with repentance and cried bitterly for his sins."
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, let us bring that part of ourselves that we hate, condemn, punish, ostracize, scourge, crucify, and allow the healing oil of our Prodigal God flow upon the broken, bruised, beaten, and betrayed parts of who we are. We must allow, yes allow, the healing, the inner tranquility, the contentment to happen to us. That is which our Gracious God has accomplished and is accomplishing in lives of so many . It is a reality we can choose to celebrate, within us. When, and if the choice is made by you and I, to paraphrase Karl Rahner, the following will happen: “God will take hold of the most hidden depths of our souls, the innermost center of our being, He will transform and glorify it. He will make it holy, the dwelling place of the divine." I read the following, and it is beginning to make sense "You cannot have true peace, without first facing life." That will be the life we are really living, not some illusion the ego has created, and is creating. We must “go deep" because, "the surface will not tell you what the deep water knows ". We will be lead through the rough storms to rest in still waters. There we can find our rest, and our contentment in the welcoming, passionate embrace of Mercy-full Shalom.