I love to make people laugh. Often, because I am seen by others as funny and gregarious on stage, it is hard to understand that I am actually an introvert. People often want me to be funny, when in reality I may be feeling down or contemplative, moody or even frustrated. I am highly neurotic, compulsive, and certainly can be obsessive. What are many great weaknesses somehow become strengths as I look to God. He is enough. His mercy in me allows me to be merciful to others. This, I think, is part of the richness found in the liturgical readings.
In this week’s readings we know that God loves His people enough that He will send them a prophet to speak words from above. The reality is that many will not listen. Life is filled with all sorts of difficulties and frustrations, and often obstinacy and circumstances distract us from God. But even in our lowest moments, God is not only willing to speak to us, but to extend mercy to us so that we can have faith in Him.
I need mercy. The older I get the more I realize that I do not have it all together. I often wonder why we are seemingly so ready to be intolerant of other’s poor behavior, but wish for mercy to be extended to us at our hour of difficulty. Often, the people we know the best seem to be easily frustrated with us when we fall, and in turn we find ourselves easily angered when they seem to let us down. Extending mercy to those who do not deserve it, or those we have repeatedly given it to, is nothing short of miraculous, but that is exactly our opportunity.
The first reading is very interesting. God is sending a prophet to the children of Israel who are rebellious and have revolted against the Lord. In the end they are obstinate and hardened, but the prophetic calling is such that while they may not heed the messenger’s words, they will know that this one was sent by God. The prophet calls them to repentance, but often is ignored because he is one of their own.
The Psalm is a cry for mercy. Having fixed their eyes upon the Lord, great frustration is felt at those around them who are arrogant and proud. Only God, to whom they look, can extend to them the change they long for. They need mercy.
St. Paul talks about a thorn in his side, and how he prayed for deliverance yet was told God’s grace was sufficient. So, while he would go on to write most of the New Testament, he realized that when weak, he was actually strong.
I want the Lord to be amazed with me, but not at my lack of faith. Each of us is being called by God to not only be the recipients of the Lord’s mercy, but to also extend it to those who don’t readily accept our thoughts and insights. We often get frustrated when we are overlooked, maybe even realizing that if the one we loved simply did what we advised, a lot of trouble would be avoided. In the end, we can only grant mercy and look to the Lord. We ourselves can often feel weak and regularly battling hardships that would distract most others, but remembering that God is not afraid of our weakness is a great consolation. Be merciful to the one in your path today, in a manner that would console you in your time of trouble.