a mercy beyond our worthiness...

Here is a quote worthy of pondering for the rest of our lives:

We are treasured beyond measure by a mercy that does not depend on our worthiness - that carries no inspection for perfection. (Dennis O'Leary, The Tablet, December 2011)

+ We are treasured beyond measure: most people who take the Church serious do not feel
like they are treasured. They feel guilty - or incomplete - or judged either by God or those in charge of the Church and often both. It doesn't matter that our feelings are completely contrary to the way and words of Jesus and the prophets, we still mostly feel that way. One of the great challenges and potential joys of doing church these days is the healing of our feelings. But here's the catch: such a healing is not automatic. It is neither cheap grace, magic nor subject to our funds or striving. That is what theologians call "the arrogance of functional atheism" wherein no matter what we say or confess, we act like everything depends on us. It is all about letting our hearts be so opened and emptied by trust that we start to sense from the inside out that we are treasured. Not valued. Not respected. Not significant or anything less than treasured. Spend a little time with that one, ok?

+ By a mercy beyond our worthiness: I LOVE those words - a mercy beyond our worthiness - and here's why. First, it implies that we do things that are insane, goofy, hurtful, selfish and absurd. Second, it tells us that no matter how wacked we might act, God's mercy is greater than the sum total of all our thoughts, words and deeds. God's love is bigger than sin. Bigger than fear. Bigger than shame. Bigger than our feelings. Love wins: PERIOD. We may not feel, experience or trust God's love, however, because we refuse to let go of our feelings, thoughts or sins. God discards them but we're masters of holding on to them. Small wonder the prophet Isaiah reminds us: God's ways are not our ways. We bind what God liberates through mercy.

+ With no inspection for perfection:  we don't have to present ourselves as evidence. God's love is bigger than that, yes? Besides, most of us aren't honest enough with our true state to pass any inspection. We'll either under-estimate our wounds, or, over-emphasize our wisdom and/or power. We are lousy when it comes to being honest about the true state of our condition. So God tell us: let's not waste any body's time - mine include. I love you beyond all proof. I love you whether you accept it or not. I love you beyond all the evidence. Because that's what God does.

I found myself moved to tears this morning during the Psalm - and the sung antiphon - because it was a total celebration of God's mercy. I was moved by the humble and simple message about honoring promises born of love without pressure or obligation a woman shared during our mission moment. I was stunned into gratitude as our veterans led us in a time of prayer in anticipation of Veteran's Day. I was knocked on my butt by the beauty of our Missa rehearsal and the passion all the musicians - vocalists and instrumentalists - brought to the table. And I was grateful beyond measure for the tenderness people showed one another, too. It was a good day to be alive and in worship.

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