Sunday, December 4, 2011

Divine Mercy and Advent

In a catechetical class about the long Old Testament preparation for the coming of the Messiah, a student once asked me: Why did it take God so long in sending His Son? We ask ourselves: Why the delay in the Lord’s return? St. Peter, in the 2nd reading, reminds us that what seems a “delay” to us isn’t really so for the Lord because “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.” The length of time did not really matter to the Lord to whom past, present, and future is all the same. God dwells in the eternal present. Time does not matter to Him who is beyond time.

The seeming delay of that dreadful day of judgment, when everything shall be dissolved by fire, is actually an expression of the patience of the Divine Mercy: the Lord is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. It is not that the Lord is slow in coming. Rather we are slow to repent. It takes us so much time to realize our faults. It even takes longer for us to come to repent over what we have done. All we have to do is to look at the way we deal with our favorite sins. It takes long for us to admit our guilt. It takes so long for us to overcome it. We confess our favorite sins again and again because we keep on doing it. That is why it is called “favorite sin.”

Thus, the Lord delays in bringing us to justice. He gives us time to repent. Patiently, he awaits for our return to him because he does not want the sinner to die. Rather, he wants the sinner to repent and live. Thus, he gives us many opportunities to avail of his mercy. Look at the Gospel. Before sending His Son, he sends first John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord. Contrary to our stereotyping of John the Baptist as a fire and brimstone prophet, the man is actually a proclaimer of the Divine Mercy: John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His mandate is one of tender compassion: Comfort, give comfort to my people…Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated. Attracted by the message of mercy that the Baptist brings, people were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. Indeed, that dreadful day of judgment will come with the suddenness of a thief’s coming. But before that day, the Lord extends the limits of his mercy. He makes his mercy accessible to all.

Thus, we should take advantage of this time of reprieve. We should not hesitate to go to confession which is the tribunal of the Divine Mercy. Let us repent while we still can. Let us go to the priest and to him acknowlege our sins. Let us do this while the Lord allows his patience to delay his judgment. “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” To St. Faustina, the Lord said: “Before I come as the just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy.” (Diary, 83.)

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