Pastor's Page

Dear Parish Family,

Today we wrap up our message series, Mercy and Our Response, which began in mid-September. For six weeks now, Saint Luke has shared with us various accounts of Jesus’ teaching and healing. We began with the epicenter of mercy, Luke 15: an exhibition of what is lost, but on deeper inspection a beautiful illustration of “the nature of God, as that of a Father who never gives up, until he has forgiven the wrong and overcomes rejection with compassion and mercy,” in the words of Pope Francis. Two weeks ago, we recognized that despite a universal personal need for the mercy of God, only sometimes do our hearts swell with deep gratitude for the mercy and blessing that God showers upon us.

There is something so fundamental about the cry of the creature for the mercy of his Creator. We all have it within us to shout with raised hands and head bowed, “Show me your mercy O Lord,” or “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

IMG 3232Today in the Gospel, two men arrive to the temple to pray. One has confidence in himself, the other in God. One is thankful for his own goodness, the other thankful - nay hopeful - that God is good. One compares himself (favorably) to others. The other compares himself to no one, but merely admits his need.

Whenever comparisons are made of that sort, between children of God, it rarely comes to a good end. In this case, we see two very different beatings of the breast. The Pharisees pounds his chest like Tarzan: triumphant, confident, energetic and assured. The tax collector beats his breast in humility, reparation and sorrow. 

And Jesus concludes, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  In this case, humility is expressed as a need for the Lord, as a cry for mercy. Sirach helps us to imagine our prayers thrown like darts or spears to heaven, “The one who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens. / The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal…” We pierce the clouds with humble and faithful prayers. Not only the clouds but the sacred heart of Jesus is touched by the prayers of the lowly and humble. He does not seem to hear so well the prayers of the Tarzans among us. Being so strong and self-assured, do they really need the Lord?

The answer, of course, is yes. But do they recognize their need for the mercy of God? That is the challenge of the prideful and self-referential heart. The armor of braggadocio prevents the mercy of God from working its gentle magic from within. Like rain on the dry desert or the rocky outcropping, it does not penetrate but only runs off. 

At the beginning of each holy Mass, we are invited to prepare ourselves for worship by calling to mind our sins and thus our need for the mercy of God. At the words, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” we strike our chests three times. And we sing out those ancient words: Lord, have mercy! Kyrie eleison! With this beautiful gesture, we imitate the tax collector with head bowed and heart rent.

Show us your mercy O Lord, and grant us your salvation!

Fr. Wilson

Parish Calendar