I will turn their mourning into joy. I will console and gladden them after their sorrows. (From Saturday's Responsorial Psalm)
Reflection for Saturday: The surprising truth about Mercy
From time to time, I "go on retreat" by immersing myself in a creative project with acrylic paints and canvas. When I do this, I ask the Holy Spirit to inspire me with an idea for the painting's subject. It always has to have a message, or else I'm not interested in it and I doubt that anyone else would be. By the time it's finished, it has spoken to me, ministered to me, restored me, and told me its name. And I hope it will do the same for someone else.
Recently, a landscape painting named "Mercy" had a lot to say.
I posted it on Facebook and asked, "Can anyone deduce why its name is Mercy?" The responses were fascinating. They were excellent and true, bringing to light things that even I had not seen, although none of them were the answer that had inspired the painting. Before you read their answers (and at the end, my own), stop and look. What is your answer to this question?
Sahagun Irma said, "The house of God waiting for all us, sailors in this world."
Bill Bowman said, "The path to the Church gets more narrow as it goes along." To which I replied, "Keep looking. The path is not really narrower. That's simply perspective, because the church is farther away than the foreground."
Margaret Everett said, "Still water reflects the light. 'By quiet waters He leads me. I care for the flowers in the fields how much more will I care for you! Come to The Water, you who are thirsty, though you have nothing I bid you come. I look to the mountains from where my help comes; it comes from you oh Lord.'"
Merry Burhan said, "As the sun rises every morning giving light and life to all under it, so is God's mercy. Every day by his mercy and grace we are given chances to really 'live' and be better than yesterday."
Wing Aguila said, "From the shadows, we are called into the light. And as we gather with the people of God, we too must shine, attract others who are still in darkness, and guide them into the light of Christ. We are one with Christ and the people of God in this work of evangelisation."
Kathy Lessl said, "Psalm 51:7 - 'Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.'"
Margaret Everett added, "'I am the rock of your salvation!' Because of God's tender Mercy He will give light to those in darkness and guide our footsteps to a place of peace. Christ's Church. On the journey there are the rocks of salvation, the trees of the field, the quiet waters, flowers that bloom and a view of the mountain."
Carlos Pips Rizikó said, "God is taking a good care of His creations. Whether big or small, all of His creations matters to Him. That melting ice on top of the mountain makes me curious. Hehe!"
Lim Chune Sin said, "New Day, New Mercy."
Georgina Esposo said, "God's mercy from of old ensures peace and continuity of life; day becomes night and again, day reappears to assure of God's constancy. The fields are abloom with flowers wafting their scents, quietly lending beauty and serenity to touch the human heart."
Sally Malkowski said, "Spare us the wrath of the water ... OR ... a refuge where you least expect it."
Cindy Taylor said, "I see the Holy family in rocks and three trees representing Calvary?" [Note from Terry: I didn't plan this, nor did I see it until Cindy pointed it out.]
Ruby Manuel said, "Despite our sinfulness, God's goodness is constant. His faithfulness despite our unfaithfulness is rooted from the depth of His mercy, and this manifests everywhere around us, in every season of our lives, if only we could see."
Mary Wellman said, "We have a choice. We can be marginal Catholics doing what's minimally required, or go beyond in pursuing our first Love, and immerse ourselves in His endless Love and Mercy, depicted by the larger body of water past the church."
Bernadette McGrath said, "The church looks perilously close to the water's edge -- is the sea level rising? We must be better stewards of our oceans. God's mercy is boundless, but we have a responsibility to care for the gift of all creation."
Gayle Gaither said, "There are so many terrains in each of our journeys, mercy is always available but we can neglect to see it at times when the rocks or tall grass or whatever could distract us."
Terry says: And now it's my turn. Here's the big reveal! Look at the back door of the church. Mercy is the back door when love by itself does not draw us in. The path leads to the front door, but not everyone finds Christ by normal paths. Some find Christ "off the beaten path". God the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit (the three evergreen trees) welcomes all, keeping the back door open for those who don't see the value of the path to the front door.
This painting also shows that we come from a rocky world, and there is safety in the Church that's lit brightly by the Light of Christ. Though it looks precariously close to being flooded, it is not. Psalm 1 says: "Those who delight in the law of the Lord are like a tree planted by water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaves does not wither. Whatever they do prospers." The water is the Holy Spirit nourishing the Church and all who are in it.
The snow-capped mountains across the sea could be obstacles that keep people far from Christ and the Church. The melting snow is the beginning of God's mercy. Look at Mark 11:23, where Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them."
And did you see the boat? Its sail is glowing with the light of the sun/Son. Remember that Jesus calms the storms and takes us safely to shore.
Sally now has this painting in her home. Here's another painting that wants to speak to someone in their home or office. Its name is "Journey Beyond". It's encouragement for reaching difficult goals.
The Lord always provides a way across whatever separates us from the better life that he has created for us. The place where we are now is comfortable; it has just enough beauty to convince us that it's okay to stay in the status quo of our current life. It's scary to cross over to far-reaching goals. Notice that the bridge has no hand-rails and is low enough to the churning river that it appears unsafe; the river could easily overtake it and drown you if you try to cross it. The other side has many more flowers than where we now stand, but from our current perspective, they seem too small to be worth the effort to reach. Notice also that the bridge is not the center of our attention. The central focus is on the river and its fast and dangerous current.
What have you been praying for that has been too far-fetched or illusive? What goals do you have that seem impossible to reach? The promise of this painting is that, when we trust the Lord, we see and use the bridge that he provides and reach the other side safely.
This 16x20 painting is available to anyone who will pay shipping costs (about $50 in the US) and who explains to me why it ministers to them. If more than one person asks for it, the one with the strongest reason for having it will be chosen to receive it.
Jesus Is calling: How do you know it's not spam?
Last weekend, I shared with you the Good News for Today episode called "The Healing Hands of Jesus". One of those who viewed it, Matilda, experienced a miracle when she prayed with Ralph at the end of the video. Her praise report is in the comments section below the video. Be sure to see it! It's a real faith-booster!
Today I'd like to invite you to watch a video that can boost your ability to hear Jesus, entitled "Jesus Is calling: How do you know it's not spam?" Jesus often speaks to us through unexpected people and ways that we don't trust. How can we become better at recognizing that he has come to us or what he is calling us to do? This episode of Good News for Today is based on John 8:21-30.
If you're on Facebook, join our Christian Apostleship Learning Lab (CALL) where short teaching videos and new video courses, especially Facebook Live videos, will help you respond to God's calling on your life.