THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for September 24th, 2017
Sunday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Liturgical texts here
I am on my way back from the “Flame of Love” conference in Philadelphia. It was beautiful. Around 500 people packed a hotel room that was filled with the Holy Spirit from the first minute. All of us are leaving with renewed hope and strength in the Lord. I have some long layovers in airports on my way back to Canada, and so am taking this time to reflect with you on today’s readings….
CAN we exhaust God’s mercy?
It seems to me—when we consider all that the Scriptures have to say, and Christ’s revelations of Divine Mercy to St. Faustina—it is not so much that mercy runs out that justice fills up. Think of a rebellious teenager who continually breaks the rules of the house, increasingly bringing unrest, harm, and danger to the whole family, until the father… at last… has no choice but to ask the child to leave. It is not that his mercy has run out, but that justice demanded it for the common good of the family.
This is important to understand about our present times—a period, now, where the rejection of Christ and the Gospel has brought mankind to a perilous brink. Nonetheless, the risk is that we would fall into a harmful pessimism, if not fatalism, that risks paralyzing our missionary impetus; and that we, the brothers and sisters, rather than the Father, begin to determine that the “rebellious child” should be cast out of the house. But that is simply not our business.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. (Today’s first reading)
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works. (Today’s Psalm)
There has been much ado about last night’s configuration of the sky, where the constellations lined up according to Revelation 12:1. Many feel this might have been another “sign of the times.”  Still, this morning the sun rose, babies were born, the Mass was prayed, and the harvest continues to be reaped.
The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; they are renewed each morning — great is your faithfulness! (Lam 3:22-23)
But at the same time, pornography is being watched by hundreds of millions, children are being sold into slavery, suicides and sexually transmitted diseases are skyrocketing, families are falling apart, untreatable viruses are breaking out, nations are threatening each other with annihilation, and the earth itself is groaning under the weight of mankind’s sin. No, God’s mercy is not running out, but time is. Because justice demands that God intervene before mankind destroys itself.
In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy.—Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1588
Thus, our role as Christians is not to call down judgment, but to spread out, as far and wide as we can, God’s mercy. In the parable about the kingdom today, Jesus reveals how the Father is ready to save, even until the last minute, any soul who gives their “yes.” He is ready to reward even the greatest sinner who repents and turns to him with trust.
O soul steeped in darkness, do not despair. All is not yet lost. Come and confide in your God, who is love and mercy… Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet… I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1486, 699, 1146
A soul’s greatest wretchedness does not enkindle Me with wrath; but rather, My Heart is moved towards it with great mercy. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1739
That is the heart of God at this very hour! He desires to pour out His mercy upon this world against the deluge of sin. The question is, is that my heart? Am I working and praying for the salvation of souls, or waiting for justice? Likewise, to those who are lukewarm, those who are drifting away in sin. Are you presuming God’s mercy, that you can wait until the last minute to repent?
Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. (Today’s First Reading)
No, mercy is not running out, but time is. The “day of the Lord” will come like a thief in the night, said St. Paul.  And according to the popes of the last century, that day is very, very near.
There is a great uneasiness at this time in the world and in the Church, and that which is in question is the faith. It so happens now that I repeat to myself the obscure phrase of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke: ‘When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?’…I sometimes read the Gospel passage of the end times and I attest that, at this time, some signs of this end are emerging. —POPE PAUL VI, The Secret Paul VI, Jean Guitton, p. 152-153, Reference (7), p. ix.
In our days this sin has become so frequent that those dark times seem to have come which were foretold by St. Paul, in which men, blinded by the just judgment of God, should take falsehood for truth… (CF. 1 Tim 4:1). —POPE LEO XIII, Divinum Illud Munus, n. 10
You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is—apostasy from God… there may be already in the world the “Son of Perdition” [Antichrist] of whom the Apostle speaks. —POPE ST. PIUS X, E Supremi, Encyclical On the Restoration of All Things in Christ, n. 3, 5; October 4th, 1903
Certainly those days would seem to have come upon us of which Christ Our Lord foretold: “You shall hear of wars and rumours of wars—for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom“ (Matt 24:6-7). —BENEDICT XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, November 1, 1914
And thus, even against our will, the thought rises in the mind that now those days draw near of which Our Lord prophesied: “And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). —POPE PIUS XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Encyclical on Reparation to the Sacred Heart, n. 17
The Apocalypse speaks about God’s antagonist, the beast. This animal does not have a name, but a number. In [the horror of the concentration camps], they cancel faces and history, transforming man into a number, reducing him to a cog in an enormous machine. Man is no more than a function. In our days, we should not forget that they prefigured the destiny of a world that runs the risk of adopting the same structure of the concentration camps, if the universal law of the machine is accepted. The machines that have been constructed impose the same law. According to this logic, man must be interpreted by a computer and this is only possible if translated into numbers. The beast is a number and transforms into numbers. God, however, has a name and calls by name. He is a person and looks for the person. —Cardinal Ratzinger, (POPE BENEDICT XVI) Palermo, March 15th, 2000 (italics added)
We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. —Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (JOHN PAUL II ), at the Eucharistic Congress, Philadelphia, PA for the bicentennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; some citations of this passage include the words “Christ and the antichrist” as above. Deacon Keith Fournier, an attendee, reports it as above; cf. Catholic Online; August 13, 1976
Are you envious because I am generous? (Today’s Gospel)