Christians & Coronavirus:
Staying Connected in Christ
APRIL 19, 2020
"DIVINE MERCY & QUARANTINE"
DIVINE MERCY & QUARANTINE
If you have listened to even a few of my homilies, you probably know that the two themes I come back to again and again are the Eucharist and Confession. I was made aware of the fact that I preach on these two topics frequently when my mother “gently” pointed it out to me. So it may come as no surprise to you that I have a great love for Divine Mercy Sunday, a day when we celebrate the infinite mercy of God, and especially the manifestation of that mercy in the sacrament of confession.
As much as I would love to write all about sin and confession in this article (don’t worry, that’s exactly what I will be preaching about on Divine Mercy Sunday), I actually want to take some time to reflect on God’s mercy from a slightly different perspective. To gain this perspective, I would like to turn our attention to the Jewish understanding of mercy found in the Old Testament. This may surprise some of you because there is a popular idea that the “God of the Old Testament” is the “God of wrath, justice, and punishment,” but this simply is not true. The God of the Old Testament is the one God, and this is the God of mercy.
John Paul II wrote an encyclical called Dives in Miserecordia on the mercy of God, and he spends a significant amount of time addressing the concept of mercy found in the Old Testament. He says that, for the people of Israel, “mercy is the content of intimacy with their Lord,” and that, “the Old Testament encourages people suffering from misfortune… to appeal for mercy, and enables them to count upon it: it reminds them of His mercy in times of failure and loss of trust.”
I find it incredibly encouraging to consider mercy as the “content of intimacy” with the Lord; there isn’t a single one of us who isn’t longing for more intimacy. However, I find it even more amazing that, for the Jewish people, mercy wasn’t something that was given by God only in the midst of personal or communal sin, but mercy was something that could be received in the midst of any suffering or misfortune. Put another way, God’s mercy is the love and care he gives in the midst of pain and suffering.
So how do we encounter this mercy of God in the midst of our own pain and suffering, especially the pain and suffering caused by the coronavirus? One thing I have done is to take a little time at the end of each day to write down the blessings that God has given me that day. Even in the midst of quarantine, I am shocked at the mercies God continues to bestow upon me during these difficult times; an unexpected phone call or text, the morning cup of coffee with prayer, the opportunity to make and eat a good dinner, reading something beautiful or insightful. It is true that, “[The Lord’s mercies] are renewed each morning!” (Lam 3:23)
Even though this has been a difficult time for so many of us, I want to assure you that the Lord is continuing to shower His mercies upon you. Be attentive to the ways that He is showing you His love now, and rejoice in that love!
Fr. Chris Geiger
SA-SEAS Parochial Vicar