Mercy Sunday, 2019
I turned around to see who had spoken to me and when I turned
I saw seven golden lampstands,
and surrounded by them a figure like a Son of man,
dressed in a long robe tied at the waist with a golden girdle.
His head and his hair were white as white wool or as snow,
his eyes were a burning flame ,
his speech like burnished bronze when it has been refined as in a furnace,
and his voice like the sound of the ocean.
In his right hand he was holding seven stars,
out of his mouth came a sharp sword, double-edged,
and his face was like the sun shining in all its force.
I don’t know about you, but this description of Jesus does not sound like the same person as the Jesus of Nazareth who walked the earth, the Good Shepherd image we are so familiar with in the gospels. No wonder that John writes that when he caught sight of this glorified Jesus, he fell as if dead at his feet. Apparently Jesus’ glorified body is quite a bit different than how it looked during his time on earth. As a matter of fact, we may not look quite the same, either.
Jesus is fully God and fully human, and, as God, he is both perfect justice and perfect mercy. Jesus paid the price for our sins because of God’s perfect justice, so that he could extend his hand out to us, that we might receive perfect mercy. In fact, both images of Jesus are correct ones: Jesus remains the Good Shepherd, and he is also God, whose striking countenance sent John into a dead faint!
Every precious moment on earth is a time to accept the mercy of God. We do this every time we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where God always extends his hand out to us in mercy and forgiveness. We are offered a lifetime (the length of which is unknown to us) in order to have the time to turn from our sins and seek the Lord. Our time on earth is not just a time for accumulating treasures and experiences, but of seeking and finding the Lord, and turning to him for mercy on a regular basis!
When our time on earth comes to an end, God will reveal himself to us and how many opportunities of grace and mercy he gave us throughout our lives. We will be surprised and will wish we had recognized more of them. The time after death is the time of God’s perfect justice, when our opportunity to come to Jesus in faith and trust will be at an end, so let us both receive mercy from the Lord every day and extend mercy to others by our words and deeds.