Monday, April 19, 2004
Divine Mercy--What are Lord gave us from the Cross  

We are constantly in need of our Lord's Divine Mercy. The message of Easter is that Christ extended His Divine Mercy to us in order that we might no longer be slaves of sin and death. As Jesus announced when He inaugurated His public ministry in His hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:18-19):

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

Jesus makes these words from Isaiah 61:1-2 His own by following up His reading from the scroll by sitting down (the position of teaching) and saying, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:20).

His audience were amazed at His words for a number of reasons. One was because he was the hometown boy that they knew. Even though they could not deny His presence and His authoritative words, they were wondering how the carpenter's son could speak as He did. Second, they were amazed because He was announcing that the Messiah had come. The words of Isaiah 61:1-2 were the mission of the Messiah. They knew that this passage indicated that the Messiah would rescue oppressed Israel from her captors. Jesus was saying that freedom from oppression was at hand. The Jubilee year which the Messiah was to initiate had been started.

The problem is that His listeners understood only the temporal oppression which first century Israel suffered under the Romans. Jesus makes it clear that His mission is not simply temporal because His mission extends to the Gentiles. In Luke 4:25-27, our Lord identifies Himself with the great prophets Elijah and Elisha. How He identifies Himself is what bothers those who heard Jesus' words in the synagogue in Nazareth. He reminds the people of when these two prophets were sent to help Gentiles.

The crowd does not accept a Messiah who has a mission to the Gentiles. They want to be liberated from the brutal oppression of the Romans. Consequently, they try to kill Jesus outside the city even as false prophets were to be stoned outside the city (Luke 4:28-29).

A key to understanding what Jesus meant is that He was referring to a real bondage from which the people needed a new Exodus. Isaiah's prophecy of the new Exodus was fulfilled in Him because He is the Messiah. The people's real oppressor is sin. The real enemy is the devil. Jesus came to set us free from the bondage that can extend beyond this life unlike the oppression of fellow man.

As our Holy Father indicates in His message on Divine Mercy Sunday, the liberation is completed at the cross when Jesus is once again driven out of the city in order to be killed. In this fullness of time, He lays down His life. He completes His Messianic mission by offering pardon for sin in order that we might live free. This is the Divine Mercy of our Savior who even pardons us for our participation in His death.

From VIS:

"From high on the Cross on Good Friday Jesus bequeathed us pardon as His testament: 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do'. Tormented and derided, he invoked mercy on his killers. His open arms and his pierced heart thus became the universal sacrament of the paternal tenderness of God Who offers everyone pardon and reconciliation. The day of His Resurrection, the Lord, appearing to His disciples, greeted them: 'Peace unto you', and He showed them His hands and His side which bore the signs of His passion."

"Jesus," underscored the Holy Father, "is our peace because He is the perfect sign of Divine Mercy. He infuses in the human heart, which is an abyss always exposed to the temptation of evil, the merciful love of God."

"Today is Divine Mercy Sunday," said the Pope. "The Lord invites us to bring His peace to everyone, based on His pardon and the remission of sins. This is an extraordinary gift, that He wished to link to the Sacrament of penance and reconciliation. How much mankind needs to feel the efficacy of God's mercy in these times marked by growing uncertainty and violent conflicts!"

Posted by David at 10:16 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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