Friday, September 22, 2006



Ecclesiasticus gives us yet other advice: "My son, do not cheat a poor man of the alms he asks, nor pass him by, with averted look, in his need" Ecclus. 4.1. The preacher appeals to our mercy and our charity, not only for material help, but, as children of God, for the help and mercy which we ourselves have received from him. Our mercy must be a ray of his.
We too are poor and needy. Our constant prayer is "Kyrie eleison", "Lord, have mercy upon us"- by which, in two short words, we ask for all we lack, and say in other words: "Lord, do not cheat us of the alms we ask."
We must learn from Christ, who is mercy incarnate, to be merciful to our neighbour and therefore merciful to our own soul. When God sees our poverty, our misery, his love becomes mercy, a quality proper to all great souls. Infinite mercy is proper to infinite love; God's father-heart is wide enough to contain all he has created. His love sees all their needs; his heart feels for them, and desires nothing more than to satisfy them. He never ceases to show mercy to us, to help us, to cure our infirmities of body and soul. He forgives us our sins, and even his punishments are sent in mercy, to purify and sanctify.
The Holy Scriptures, his own Word, bear witness on every page to his loving-kindness. The breviary uses, as hymns of praise, that which he himself tells us of his pity for us. His mercy lasts as long as we live; we find its expression in the Sacraments, in our vocation, in the spiritual riches with which he overwhelms us in every circumstances of our lives, be it great or small. How marvelous is God's care for us! "What, can a woman forget her child...? Let her forget; I will not be forgetful of thee." (Isaias 49. 15) "I will console you then, like a mother caressing her son." (Isaias 66.13) His love is inexhaustible; it knows no limits, makes no exceptions, embraces even his enemies. It cannot be expressed, for it is divine, and that which is divine is of its nature inexpressible. We are truly merciful only, when we follow the example of Mercy itself, giving help to all, whenever and whatever it lies in our power to do so.
As God always comes to our assistance, so we must always be ready to assist others; but that will be only when we are always united to him. St. Catherine of Siena, speaking of brotherly charity, says, "If a man fills a cup at the fountain, and takes it away and drinks it, it will soon be empty. But if he drinks while he still holds the cup under the jet of water, it will always be full. Thus it is with our charity. If we love our neighbour with the feeble power of our own heart, we shall soon cease to do so; but if we would love as Christ would have us do, we must love him with God's heart!" We praise and thank you, Lord, for your incomprehensible love for us. We acknowledge that we have everything to learn concerning charity, and that ours is far from being a ray of yours! But we are resolved in future, living as we do in your love and strengthened by your grace, to consecrate all that of which we are capable to our fellow-men. Knowing how poor and weak our heart is, we will hide it in yours, that we may be able to comfort with your own love all those who, by your Providence, we meet upon our way.