Moved By Mercy – 31st Sunday in Kingdomtide ~ Br. Michael Marshall, Novice

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There is a song by Matthew West titled, “Moved By Mercy” in which some lyrics are applicable to today’s readings.  In the song, Matthew West coveys that there is a dialogue between a young woman and Jesus, and he tells her that things of the past no longer have to haunt her because she has reached out and asked for mercy.  Her plea is stated as follows:

“Take me far away now
From this broken place now
Somewhere they can’t hurt me
I wanna be moved by mercy
Jesus, I can’t see You
I just know I need You
Help me start a new life
Let my heart be moved by mercy.”

Jesus responds by saying:

All the hurt that you hide behind that door
I’m not gonna let it hurt you anymore.

And so later in the song the woman says:

“For so long I felt so unworthy.”

Jesus again responds with:

“I’m the one who began a good work in you
And I’m the one who is gonna see it through,
I’ll see you through.”

As well as:

“But in My arms all your shame is moved by mercy
So here I stand, a child undeserving
Take My hand and let your heart
Be moved by mercy.”

Lyrics: Matthew West

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

We see in the Reading from the Book of Wisdom that the author writes:

“But you spare all things, because they are yours, O LORD and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!  Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!”

And we see in the Gospel that Jesus looks up at Zacchaeus because he wants to establish a relationship while staying in his home.  Zacchaeus is a tax collector, who the town’s people see as a sinful person.  Even though it is not explicitly stated in the Gospel Reading, we understand that this relationship has more to do with ministry rather than needing a place to stay while in Jericho.  As the town’s people are upset because Jesus wants to stay in Zacchaeus’ home, Zacchaeus understands this purpose; which again is not explicitly stated.  Zacchaeus then asks for mercy for what he has committed against God and toward the town’s people by saying:

“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.”

And Jesus shows mercy toward Zacchaeus by saying:  “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

How do the story of the young woman and the Readings apply to us??? Well, it is quite simple and straightforward!  Unlike Jesus, we were born into the world not free of sin.  That does not mean we sin the minute we come out of our mother’s womb, but rather we sometimes get caught up in things of this world which go against God.  We follow the bad example of others, even if we know it is wrong.  That is simply part of being human, as much as our baptism has washed away our sins.  But when we do sin, we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to ask for forgiveness.  But ultimately what this sermon is about is how we need to truly change our ways and not just ask for mercy, but to follow through with living a pure and holy life after asking for mercy.  Just because we ask for mercy, and receive it, does not mean we can go on living with the mentality of “Well, God will forgive me” and return to our old ways.  Because we asked for mercy, and we have been granted that mercy, we must strive to not turn back.  The priest even says to us, “Your sins have been pardoned, and therefore go forth and sin no more.”

Father, when we ask for mercy, may we truly remember to truly live a holy and pure life because we asked for the mercy.  This we ask through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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