First Sunday of Advent
November 29, 2015
Brokenness Needs A Merciful Savior
There’s something wrong…with us. We are broken. All of us, you and I and everyone else in this crazy, mixed-up world. We are sinners. We feel pain, loneliness, hurt, rejection. We struggle with addictions. We regret our past. We fear the future. We lose our patience. We make mistakes. And so, we need a merciful Savior.
In 1931, a Polish nun named St. Faustina Kowalska was praying when she had a vision of Jesus, with rays of white and red light flowing from His heart. You may have seen the picture – it is the Divine Mercy image. Jesus revealed Himself to St. Faustina as the King of Divine Mercy, the Savior who comes with mercy to His people. His mercy is so intense, that He said to St. Faustina, “The greater the sinner, the greater their right to My Mercy.”
All of our brokenness is no match for God’s mercy. His mercy can take everything broken in us – all of our pain, all of our chains, even our sins – and cleanse them, making of us something beautiful for God. Have you ever seen a mosaic? It’s a picture formed by thousands of pieces of glass or ceramic. It forms a beautiful work of art – but first the glass or stone must be broken, then placed in the hands of the master artist to make it beautiful. Likewise, when our brokenness is placed in the hands of the Creator of the world, He can bring about something beautiful from it.
Mercy is at the heart of the Gospel, especially today’s Gospel. Jesus contrasts two groups of people at His Second Coming – some people will “die of fright”, while some people will “lift up their heads, for their redemption is at hand.” Which one will you be? The difference between the two is that the first group did not trust in Jesus’ mercy, while the second group did. After all, Jesus revealed to St. Faustina that “[those who trust in God’s mercy should] not fear judgment, for they will not be judged.” Which group will you be in – those who trust in God’s mercy, or those who do not?
Mercy is so important that Pope Francis named 2016 the “Year of Mercy”. He wants to emphasize how important mercy is in our faith – he calls mercy, “the other name of Love.” Our sin, our wounds are like a drop of water lost in the ocean of God’s mercy; it gets dissolved and washed away.
Why am I talking about mercy during Advent? Because the whole reason Jesus came was to save sinners and heal the broken with His mercy. Let’s be honest with ourselves: we can’t do this whole “life” thing on our own. We need a Savior because we need to be saved! If you think you can get through life on your own, then Jesus isn’t for you! You know what the first step in the 12-step program Alcoholics Anonymous is: admitting we have a problem. When we admit our brokenness and our sin, then the Lord can begin His healing work.
The good news is, we cannot earn this mercy. Just recently someone came to me, distraught. She had been asked to be a Eucharistic minister, but she thought she couldn’t do it. She explained to me, “Father, I’m not worthy!” No, we’re not worthy…and that’s what makes mercy a gift! Do you know who was the first person to enter Heaven after Jesus’ death? The man dying on the cross next to Jesus. He repented of his sin and trusted in God’s mercy, and Jesus promised that thief that he would be with Him in paradise!
So how do we embrace God’s mercy? It’s as simple as A-B-C:
A – Ask for it! If we only knew the mercy and grace that Jesus longs to give us, we would be on our knees day and night. In Heaven, right now, God only wants one thing – to pour out His mercy on us. But we must ask in order to receive mercy!
B – Be merciful! To receive kindness, we must give kindness. To receive love, we must give love. And to receive mercy, we must give mercy to others, if we desire God’s mercy upon us.
C – Completely trust in Jesus’ mercy. Beneath that famous image of the Divine Mercy are the words, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”
Jesus said to St. Faustina, “Humanity will never find peace until it trusts in Divine Mercy.” This Advent, we begin our journey to Christmas by humbly recognizing that we desperately need a Savior because we are broken and sinful, but trusting that His Mercy is greater than our brokenness and sin, and He can make all things new and make something beautiful out of us.