March 23-24, 2019
“The quality of mercy is not strained, it drippeth as the gentle rain from heaven”
From Fr. Anthony Ligato
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The number of Shakespearian quotes I know could fill a thimble, but there is one Shakespearian quote I do know, “The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.” This quote from the Shakespearian play, The Merchant of Venice; reveals more about God’s generosity than our reflection of that mercy in our own lives. That is not to say we are not called to reflect God’s mercy, it just seems at times that we collect those drops of mercy in a rain barrel and store them away in case a drought takes hold of us.
Mercy is not rationed it is not stored in a rain barrel in case of a drought. It flows freely and is offered to all so that their thirst is quenched. In Luke 13:19, we hear Jesus calling the faithful to repent of their sins and in the parable he shares we see how the quality of God’s mercy is patient and kind, “Slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” (Psalm 103:10) “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, for three years now I have come in search of fruit on this tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil? He said to him in reply, Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future.” Jesus is the gardener and the Father is the owner of the orchard. The opportunity for repentance is the theme of Gospel reading from Luke 13:19 as it is in the corresponding Gospel reading from John 4:542 of the telling of the Woman at the Well. In both of these readings the Father sends the Son to provide the endless opportunities for repentance and as St. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:16, 1012, never take opportunity of repentance for granted. You never know when it may be too late to repent.
As Shakespeare said, mercy is as plentiful as the rain drops in a rain storm. It is mercy that provides us the opportunity to repent. After all Psalm 103:2 tells us, “The Lord is kind and merciful, he pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills.” It is the appreciation of God’s mercy that helps us not to take it for granted. Mercy then must not be stored away waiting for a dry season, rather mercy must flow forth as the waters of baptism flow forth from the cross itself. How then do we share those countless drops of mercy that fall from the thrown of God?
There are two ways for us to allow the qualities of mercy to fall as a gentle rain in our lives, by living out the Corporal works of Mercy and the Spiritual works of Mercy. There are seven Corporal works of Mercy and there are seven Spiritual Works of Mercy. These Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy lived out in our lives become as countless as the rain drops in a rain storm. So numerous, when put into practice that we cannot count them.
Corporal Works of Mercy:
Give food to those who are hungering, give drink to those who are thirsting, cloth those who are naked, welcome the stranger, comfort the sick, bury the dead, give alms to the poor.
Spiritual Works of Mercy:
Council those who are doubting in their Faith, Instruct those who are ignorant of their Faith, Council and Correct the Sinner, Comfort the Sorrowful, Forgive injuries, be willing to bear wrongs done to you patiently, pray for both the living and the dead.
Here is our opportunity to repent by being merciful as our God is merciful. The numerous qualities of mercy lived out are as countless as the raindrops. These acts of mercy can be as simple as leaving food in the box at the front door of Church for the food pantry. To donate a case of water to one of the local communities who are struggling with clean water issues. How about provide clothing for the homeless by donating to Joseph House. We can welcome the stranger in the same way the Woman at the Well welcomed Jesus by offering him a drink. She started out by saying hello, let’s turn around right now and say hello to our neighbor who may or may not be a stranger to us. Have you ever thought about becoming a Eucharistic Minister to the sick and homebound? We always need people to help with our Bereavement Ministry, which help with funeral preparation and at the Funeral Liturgies. You can give alms to the poor by taking note of the poor boxes at the doors of Church or volunteer to help our Christian Service Committee serve dinners at the Damian Center. These are only a few drops of mercy, but there are countless acts of mercy that we can share with others.
When we are engaged in these corporal acts of mercy we cannot help but share the Spiritual Works of Mercy. When someone is suffering, they seek reassurance of Christ’s presence in their lives and by doing so we give them comfort in their sorrow. When people do not have the opportunity to be educated they cannot succeed in life, we must step in and help people move from ignorance and bring them to knowledge in Jesus Christ. If we truly care about others, we can’t be afraid of speaking the truth and that means providing people guidance and correct teaching. We may be rejected and sustain injury and persecution. The Spiritual Works of Mercy asks us to bear these injuries and bear them patiently. We can bear nothing unless we are a people of pray, all mercy begins with prayer.
The qualities of Mercy are not random drops of rain. Just as God can count every hair on our heads he can count every rain drop that falls on our head and every act of mercy that flows from faith. The true quality of Mercy is the believer who comes to know the divine mercy of God through repentance and forgiveness. Such mercy and generosity must be shared
Yours in Christ,