Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Fallen World And The Antidote of Mercy

Today we celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and it was also the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. I was out of bed early this morning, ready to begin the Holy Year well! Yesterday I went to lunch with our FOCUS Missionaries, but made a quick stop with them first at a local shrine so that I could go to confession and be ready for the Holy Year.

This morning when I woke up, I was determined to obtain the Holy Year Indulgence. I arrived to work early and immediately went out to find someone who was hungry. I bought some food and combed Kenmore Square, looking for someone to feed. I went through the bus stop, the train station, and the streets searching for just one person. It should have been easy, but everyone I saw was well-dressed and hustling to work or to school. I came back to my office defeated.

The rest of my day was spent doing the usual priestly works of saying Masses (extra for the Holy Day), praying a Holy Hour with our staff, and hearing confessions. At Masses, I preached about how in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the new creation was begun. When we look around us and when we look at ourselves, we have a sense that this is not how God intended the world to be. So much sin, death, and sorrow cannot possibly be what God intended for us. But in Mary, we see the new creation. We see what God really intended for us. She is without stain of original sin. We all have a desire for the world to be the way it was meant to be. When we look at Mary, we see the beginning of the great restoration. 

While Mary was preserved from sin, all of us too can be saved from sin. She was saved in a unique way, by being preserved. But, what God began in the Blessed Virgin, He offers also to us, albeit in a different way. What God gave to Mary in a unique way, He offers to us through the Sacraments. While Mary was preserved, we can be restored. Through the Sacraments, God is restoring the Divine Image in us and bringing it to perfection within us. 

Although this is what I preached today, my entire day was punctuated with reminders that the old creation with its imperfections and sorrows is very much still at work. In the morning time, I spoke to a young couple whom I married whose young son suddenly died this week. In their anguish, I felt the heaviness of the fallen creation. A couple of hours later, I communicated with a friend who informed me that he has been diagnosed with a serious illness. Later in the day, a medical emergency in my own family once again reminded me of the heaviness of the fallen creation. And, just as I was leaving tonight after a long day, a student asked me to pray with him about a member of his own family who today was given only a short time to live.  This entire day put in front of me the suffering of the world.

In so many ways, the world feels very ill and heavy these days. Violence, political nastiness on all sides, divisions within the Church, disease, death, and so much sorrow . . . it all just seems like the world is screaming out, "It is all broken!" And yet, we Catholics went to Church today and honored the Blessed Virgin Mary and her being conceived without sin. In her, we see that the New Creation has begun and that all is not lost. All WAS lost, but all is being made new again by her Son, Jesus Christ.

I went out this morning searching high and low for someone who needed to encounter the Mercy of God. I failed. Instead, I was shown that it is the people whom I encounter every day who are in need of knowing that they are embraced by God's Mercy.  There are a lot of people who live right in front of us who at this very moment are feeling the weight of the old creation's fallen state. On this day, we turn our gaze to the beginning of the New Creation. We turn to the Mother of Mercy and through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, we are able to offer a glimmer of hope to those who dwell in the darkness of sin and death.  In a world that seems crushed by the weight of so much darkness, the Immaculate Conception reminds us that the antidote has already been administered. Mercy not only rolls back the advances of sin and death, it also defeats them. In the face of so much suffering, sin, and darkness, we are called to live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Mercy is the antidote that God administers to a fallen world.

My takeaway from Day One of the Year of Mercy? The fallen world desperately needs Mercy. 

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