Have you ever been headhunted for a job – offered a salary, benefits, hours of your own choosing? And even if you didn’t seem interested the employer kept offering you better terms. No? Me neither! But this is what God is offering us today! He is offering us a life changing package with great benefits. God’s offer is all about love – he offers us his unconditional love, and in return ask for our love.
Unlike a job offer, there are actually no pitfalls to God’s offer! Many however have chosen not to take into their hearts the reciprocal love of God. This is where mercy comes in: mercy changes everything! Rather than giving up, God continues, day in day out, to offer offer us this unconditional love. God sent his only Son to the earth to prove that he was deadly serious about his offer. We speak of ‘Good’ Friday and not ‘Bad’ Friday, because by dying on the Cross Jesus carried the sin of the world: an act of merciful love beyond comparison.
In many cases today we prefer judgment to mercy. We are all prone to making snap decisions and then blocking out other viewpoints: witness the political climate leading up to the referendum tomorrow. A dreadful consequence of such thinking was the tragic death of the MP Jo Cox last week. However, even out of such a tragedy, the mercy of God was apparent in the statement issued by her husband when he stated that his wife would ‘have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.’
Hate is the direct opposite of mercy. Christ’s Church is not, and must not be allowed to be, a religion of hatred. Yes, rules and doctrines are important. But they serve to allow us to more clearly encounter and accept the merciful love of God. In order to make this more clear, Pope Francis has proclaimed 2016 as the Year of Mercy, specifically promoting two encounters: Firstly, the opportunity to pass through a holy door and secondly, through the sacrament of confession. In both of these encounters we are offered abundant mercy, unconditional love and total forgiveness.
Where as a prospective employer will likely get tired of waiting for you to accept their generous offer, God in his generous mercy, does not. The role of the Church today is to act as a conduit of God’s mercy, constantly inviting people to experience the merciful love of God.