Sunday, September 29, 2013


"Mercy..." "...Mercy…" and still more "Mercy," is the word we are hearing again and again from Pope Francis. Our, Pastor of Pastors, is in reality just reminding us, and I am in the need of being constantly reminded of a gift that is always being offered. We must also be cognizant of the fact that 75% of the parables of Rabbi Jesus were about the mercy and compassion of God.  Jesus, Who became The Christ, is seen as the enfleshment of the mercy of God. We are  all in the constant need of "the medicine of mercy." Thanks to our Prodigal Father-God it is always made available to us. All that needs to be done is ask for mercy, and forgiveness, and it is ours.  We can use the words put into the mouth of the publican by Jesus," Lord, God be merciful to me a sinner."  We also have in our spiritual heritage, The Jesus prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to me, a sinner." Our Pope encourages us to keep asking for forgiveness. Why is he so encouraging us?  Simply  because our Prodigal loves to forgive. So then let God do what God does best. The "best of God," meets the worst of us and in this encounter a new reality is created through the action of creative love. We are required to reverence this new reality that has resulted from the encounter  of opposites. We can never understand the miracle of grace, only gaze in awe-full wonder as we are drawn into a new, and unimaginable reality. This is God's deepest wish: "I will, not the death of the sinner,  rather that he be converted and live." Let us then, just have the desire for this miracle of grace to happen and in the depths of our being, a new creation will take root. It is only in Kairos time, God's time, will we become aware, ever so slowly of this new life now breaking through. The image of a wondrous flower breaking through the brown earth, in a very out of the way place, comes to mind. It will not have much of an impact on the world but to our world an inexhaustible source of joy has entered.

          That word "converted,"  from which we have, "conversion," is a great word.  It means to turn around and go in the opposite direction. It also involves a new way of seeing. To be converted then is to admit, to own the fact that we are going in the wrong direction and seeing in a spiritual unhealthy manner. We need then a new way of seeing, leading to a new way of being. This is not easy. It is tough to go through a conversion. Yet on this hike/ journey we have to be converted again and again. Always changing, always seeing anew, and never ending. This can only happen under the guidance of The Creative Loving Spirit. Since the spirit is invisible, we will not be able, with the naked eye, to actually see the process that is taking place. May I be so bold as to suggest a new understanding of mercy is essential for an ever evolving healthy spirituality. This will lead to the freedom envisioned by God for you and I.

      What then is the life enriching understanding of that word mercy which is so much part of our Pope's vocabulary, as in the following.  "A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold, and more just." What warmth, what compassion, what understanding, what acceptance, has exuded from our Pope. He speaks to us of the God of mercy and he encourages us to administer "the medicine of mercy." Mercy as medicine? New to us in the Latin church but not in Orthodox spirituality. One writer has suggested that The Pope has borrowed the Orthodox understanding of mercy. The Orthodox understanding really expands that old narrow understanding of mercy as just  being about the forgiveness of our sins. I have found, over the years, that mercy as understood in other languages has really broadened its meaning for me. The following has brought about about a great personal conversion, which has resulted in a new freedom. The following is being offered for your personal reflection, and spiritual nourishment: "The word mercy in English is the translation of the Greek word eleos. The word has the same ultimate root as the old Greek word for oil, olive oil: a substance which was used exclusively 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 injured 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, eleison" that is to say, "Lord soothe, comfort me, take away my pain, show me your steadfast love. Thus mercy does not refer so much to justice or acquittal a very western interpretation but to the infinite loving-likedness of God, and His compassion for his suffering children!"(Orthodox Worship)

             So we can see what the Pope is driving at. Mercy is that which sooth the pain that sin brings into our reality. Mercy is there to comfort those who are in some way victimized by acts contrary to the universal law of love.  It brings healing to the beaten, broken, betrayed, exploited of our sisters and brothers. Healing Sin, as I think of it now is:  a non loving act which in some way  makes it  now more difficult for me or another to freely respond to the offer of God's love. Sin is that action or non- action by which the loving, creative action of God is opposed or hindered. I have to face sin in relationship to myself, my neighbor, God, and all of creation. Wounds can happen so suddenly, but it takes time, sometimes, a long, long time for the healing to take place. Healing cannot be rushed, darn it, how often have I wished it were otherwise!!  This is getting too long, right?? Will continue next blog D.V.


Saturday, September 14, 2013


"Have mercy on me, O God, in accord with Your mercifulness; in abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. For I know my transgressions; my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned; I have done evil in your eyes...My sacrifice O God, is a contrite heart, a contrite, humbled heart you will not scorn. 'From this Psalm 51 we see that humankind's need for mercy has been around for a long, long time. That need continues for us today because of who we are. We as "spiritual beings," are forever and always, having to face what "immersed in the human experience" is constantly revealing to us. Some of the revelations give cause to celebrate. We are the beloved daughters/sons of a Prodigal Father whose infinite-love- vision of us never changes. As we are immersed in the confining limits of a broken humanity we do not readily see, or believe all that is ours because of who we are. Because we, at least for me, are not able to be conscious of our inner dignity.  We can live our lives in estrangement, not knowing what to do. We are lucky, however that our Prodigal Father, out of His infinite love for us, sent us His Beloved Son, Who became enfleshed, became incarnated, in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The historical Jesus, who became The Christ of God, was the revelation of fullness of the infinite, mercy-full, love of our God. Out of His personal love, for you and me and all of creation, He assumed our broken humanity. Why would The All Powerful One empty Himself of His divinity, and be immersed in a broken humanity?  Simply put, through His life, His mission, His ministry the Prophet Jesus would model for us how to move from estrangement to oneness, to unity, and eventually to peace. By entering the human condition God "conferred on human nature immortal value."  The Mystery of The Incarnation calls us, no, challenges us to see our humanity as evolving into an everyday, every moment, of newness. We are asked, and indeed challenged to enter this mystery, as we are with all mystery, with an attitude of reverence, and respect. We do this with the knowledge that we are never going to solve the mystery; we are however, going to be drawn deeper and deeper into, said mystery. This journey is endless in this life. We must not be discouraged by our limited knowledge, and vision. The Holy Spirit, The Wisdom of God, is in charge of this journey and She will make sure all that we need is right there before us. All that we will ever need will be there, when we need it and as we need it. Notice the word want was not used. There is such a difference between what we need, and what we want. "God takes care of our need, not our greed"( Ghandi).  Our Shepherd God will make sure that we, His sheep, and lambs are going to be led to running waters, and green pastures. To the good grazing fields of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation, and freedom. As we are journeying through the darkness of the valley, and this IS a certainty, we will have The Light of Lights to guide us securely on our way. We will never wander to a place where the Good Shepherd will not seek, and search for us. According to the scriptures it seems that the lost sheep get special care and attention.  In The Cloud of Unknowing the author says that God seems to do His best work with HABITUAL SINNERS.  "Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more." There is such hope and consolation contained in the healthy spiritual writers. We seem to have forgotten their tenderness, or choose to ignore it!!! 


                We do not have to know how this miracle of grace happens. It is none of our business. This is in the realm of The Divine.  All of our God's workings are way beyond our ability to understand or comprehend. All we have to do is simply allow it to happen.  Easy to do?  No way. We will have to go to war; do battle with the egocentric ego, the false self takes. This false self, where The Father Of Lies makes his dwelling will offer what APPEARS to be a better way, a more attractive one.  It will appear to be "An easier and a softer way."  As a result we will stray, go our own way and get lost.  How often will this happen?  As long and as often, as it takes for us to wake up and admit, this way is not working, there must be a better way.  Usually, we will slowly have to let go, the way of the false self, with all the pain and suffering which has become part of our so-called life. We are NOT living; we are existing. The way of the false self buys us nothing but a ticket to the dungeons, the hellish prisons of guilt, fear, and shame. We will have many encounters with that good old toxic trinity before we will awaken to the real truth, and follow the healthy way.


        Sheep and lambs do not have to know the path; all that is necessary is that The Good Shepherd knows the trail. The sheep know, recognize The Voice that calls them by name and then follow.  (That is the same Voice who is always calling us. Calling us by our unique name. A name that has been chosen for us. A name most of us will never know, so the mystics tell us. Pretty neat to have God personally choose a name for us.)  They follow that voice even though the trail may be rocky, and steep. They follow knowing there will be rest, refreshment, and safety at journey's end. For the sick, the weak, the injured there will be comfort, care, and time to rejuvenate. All their care is provided by the kind, compassionate, mercy-full, loving, tender presence and actions of the shepherd who is good. That is what a good shepherd does. In his mission and ministry, The Good Shepherd showed Himself to be everything that one could expect from a good shepherd, and even more. Jesus showed Himself to be mercy-full, healing, comforting, compassionate, kind, accepting, The Presence, and The Revelation of Love.  While on earth The Historical Jesus went before the apostles and they followed Him. Now that Jesus is The Risen Christ, He now travels with, and within each one of us. While on earth, He was not able to do that. We can say now that we have The Guidance System to guide and direct us through the darkness of the deep valleys, and its challenging trails, on our way to the eternal sheep-fold.  Darkness is not dark to the One Who is Light. Such is shinning within our depths, lighting our way to the treasure, to the pearl of great price that is waiting for us to discover.