Mercy Now or Justice Later
32nd Sunday Ordinary Time
November 10, 2019
“…but for those deemed worthy to attain a place to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage; They can no longer die, for they are like the angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones that will rise.”
from Luke 20:27-38
This Sunday’s teaching by Jesus on the resurrection of the dead springs from something we all recognize: evil people often prosper, while the good frequently suffer innocently at the hands of evil people. Human history is full of terrible tyrants who seem to prosper with impunity on earth (for a while only), while literally getting away with murder and avoiding human justice (think Hitler or the pilots on 9/11 for example). If we believe in God, then it follows that there must be a world to come where justice is done, since it is often not evidenced here very much.
One of my favorite expressions, which I often say in jest, is that “No good deed ever goes unpunished”, and there is more than an element of truth to this! The good that we do does not always have an immediate reward; while those around us, who apparently have no room for God in their lives, often seem to be doing great without him. Of course, this same principle is evidenced in Jesus’ own life. All his miracles, teachings and sacrifices only led him to be crucified by the people he tried to love and serve. But God raised him from the dead.
In fact, what we perceive to be “inaction” on God’s part toward people whose actions seem to be quite evil is actually an expression of God’s mercy; he is giving them time to repent. We are now in the era of God’s mercy: for as long as we live, God gives us time to turn our lives around. The catch, of course, is that we don’t know how long we still have left!
For Catholics, healing is as near as the confessional. It is true that some people do not realize this and go from bad to worse while others are made to suffer, but this situation will not last for long. At death, the period of mercy comes to an end and we all must come face to face with the consequences of our actions: how they affected our own lives, how they affected others, and how they looked from God’s point of view. This is why we are called to be people of mercy now: receiving mercy from God by acts of repentance and forgiveness and extending it to others through acts of love, patience and kindness.
There is an expression about Oregon weather that also applies here: if you don’t like the weather, just wait an hour. In the same way, if you wonder when God is going to restore righteousness to his creation, just wait a bit longer, but take advantage of his mercy while you still can because his justice is right around the corner.