(Part 49)


October 30, 2016

Today’s readings:

Wisdom 11:22-12:2

Psalm 145:1-14

Luke 19:1-10

As we near the end of the Year of Mercy (on Nov 20), we are reminded: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy.” (Ps 145:8).

God is merciful to us because we are His creation. We are His children, estranged for the moment, whom He wants to restore to Himself. We belong to Him. It is He who put His spirit into us. “For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; …. you spare all things because they are yours, O Ruler and Lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!” (Wis 11:24a,26-12:1).

Now since mercy is about restoration, it is always an invitation to repentance. “But you have mercy on all, …. and you overlook sins for the sake of repentance.” (Wis 11:23). Mercy is intended to restore us to God. It is false mercy when we just accept people but not speak to them of their sin.

Of course, in pastorally caring for sinners, there can be gradualness in confronting people with their sin. “Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little” (Wis 12:2a). But we do rebuke them, we “warn them, and remind them of the sins they are committing” (Wis 12:2b). And the purpose? As has been said, it is to bring them to repentance and faith in Jesus, “that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, Lord!” (Wis 12:2c).

Instruments of mercy would actually start with a personal relationship, and then go from there. This is what Jesus did with the sinner Zacchaeus. Jesus first went to his home. “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” (Lk 19:5b). That encounter led to Zacchaeus’ repentance, which includes restitution. “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” (Lk 19:8b). His repentance was genuine and the restitution was beyond what was required. The result? “Today salvation has come to this house” (Lk 19:9a).

Jesus, our God, was merciful to Zacchaeus. Jesus is also merciful to all sinners, which includes each one of us. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Lk 19:10). Mercy leads to repentance which leads to salvation.

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