Mercy Sunday, mostly hidden

Shroud of Turin.

The Eighth Day of the Octave, Mercy Sunday.
Mercy is revealed today amid doubt,
unleashes its Ocean into a tiny Upper Room of locked-in fear.
Mercy speaks peace to cowards, mission to deserters.
Mercy praises unseeing faith in the hidden Face,
proclaims healing in the open wounds of God.
Mercy breathes, entrusts to the Eleven its saving power
making men dependent on men for divine pardon,
sealing a truth He spoke long before this day:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;
but if you do not forgive men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).
Our neighboring God, Loved in the nasty, inconvenient nigh.
He seems determined to bind us closer to one another,
demolishing every rationale for hostility, estrangement, un-forgiveness.
Commanding mostly not great moments of heroic pardon,
but mercy seventy times seven times, in the face of daily
irritants, incompetence, ignorance.
Mercy forges greatness amid unremarkable things.
Mercy conquers overwhelmingly by
imperceptible patience with the difficult;
unsung gentleness with the gruff;
un-acclaimed generosity for the ungrateful.
A nanosecond in time shot through with mercy
redeems the whole of creation,
in a moment never to be repeated again.
Think, it was in a backwater outpost of an Empire
along a dusty road outside a City,
hanging naked and fixed to a Tree for three hours,
that the Word Himself gurgled
a few nearly inaudible syllables of mercy — Eli? It’s hard to hear —
heard, amid the mock and scoff, by His Ever-Attentive Father.
Syllables of mercy,
hours of compassion
redeemed a cosmos, time,
branding the Immutable God
with gaping-open wounds.
Sons, daughters of this God
arise from where you are.
Come, O God, bless the world
by your secret deeds of mercy
and we will tell no one
but you, O Secret Father. [Matt. 6:3-4]

11 comments on “Mercy Sunday, mostly hidden

  1. Jennifer says:

    I love this poem! This rallying of the (sometimes weary) troops of the ordinary! You’ve captured the great joy of abiding in His loving will as a servant of mercy. Beautiful!

    But I can’t get behind your final line, ‘and we will tell no one but you, O Secret Father’. Could you throw in an asterisk? For the do-er, the co-participant of Mercy, yes, we will tell no one, we need not tell anyone but Him, no words could suffice anyway to describe the explosive power of the apparently little, almost unnoticed things…The only words that would ever do are in His language anyway.

    but for the one who suddenly has their eyes torn open to see these little mercies for what they are, week find themselves tsunami-drenched recipient of that Mercy…For those who taste and see that indeed the Lord is good…. How can they tell no one but our Father? How can we stop from singing?

    Blessed be the Lord, the God is Israel.
    He has come to His people and Set. Us. Free.

    May you enjoy a thorough soak in his ocean today.

    • Thank you, Jennifer! The same wish and Mercy Day blessings on you!
      Good question.
      * Matthew 6:3-4 — But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
      So many implications to this passage in my reflections, so it entered my poem! 🙂 Again, thanks for reading and thinking that much about what I write. Ok I am off to be good on screen free Sunday…. 🙂

    • PS I did not finish the last part of that — which is that “tell no one but you” also refers to the counsel on prayer in that same section of Matthew, 6:6. “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
      Okay, that’s all. :]

      • Jennifer says:

        Yes,. I realize you meant that, but I guess I was thinking evangelistically about proclaiming the good news of the mercy ive received…Not talking about boasting of the puny breadcrumbs I’ve offered to others in meagre response to the torrent I’ve received. I’m overthinking this morning….Really string coffee. 🙂

    • My phone dinged with this email — so I should shut it off now. But not before induging in your prompt! No screen Sundays are hard for me in this way! 🙂
      Yes! You are exactly right. Thank you for forcing me to clarify an important point as my last line is not clear as to what I intended!
      “Come, O God, bless the world
      by your secret deeds of mercy
      and we will tell no one
      but you, O Secret Father.”
      Here’s what was in my mind: Every deed of mercy I do, if it is what it is meant to be, is always both a gift from God and my work. That was the intent of my “we will tell no one” — we= synergistic mercies accomplished by Christians. So when I do my secret deeds of alms-mercy as Jesus bids, they are to remain both my secret and God’s secret. And to use the image of prayer in Matthew that Jesus uses, the Secret Father and I share together these deeds in secret. “Father, let me tell you what I did with your mercy today!”
      Also….Most of the good God does is hidden, obscure, anonymous, which is certainly a sacrament of His humility, as He rains unacknowledged on the fields of the wicked and ungrateful willingly. So I was also alluding to God loving to hide Himself in His good-doing, or at least share His glory always with others.
      Of course, one must also add, as you do, Jesus’ other point in Matthew 5:16 which shows another side of mercy-deeds: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus wants us to be secret and proclaim — so much to say on that dialectic! NT Wright once said as he commented on Jesus’ two separate points: “One can’t say everything at once.” 🙂 hopefully that helps get at what I was trying to say, even if opaquely.
      You make me write a Summa like Aquinas, who always does his theology in response to objections and questions. Thank you, Jennifer Aquinas!!

  2. Nos. says:

    Thomas ,awesome as ALWAYS! ! ! ,hey “small scale” J where can I get a cup of that string coffee I’m always open to new beverage experiences…I’m laughing out loud kiddo+ + + P.B.W.Y.A.A. this oh so special day… stay warm …

    • Jennifer says:

      What do you mean…. is putting string in your coffee a uniquely canadian thing? Actually it means, it’s so strong that long strings of concentrated caffeine spontaneously form within it. Actually it means I was typing ‘strong’ on my phone and i didn’t check the autocorrect before sending. We do have this awesome marshmallow coffee that I’d be happy to serve you. Come on up to New Brunswick… we’ll give you a break from all that heat. Heading to a Divine Mercy party! For realz!! love you, brother!

      p.s. okay, so it snowed twice this week, but really, it was warm enough to go outside in our t-shirts once last week (if you stood in the sunshine out of the wind… but close enough)

  3. DismasDancing says:

    Love this discourse! Love the poem. Great stuff from great lovers of our Most Merciful Father. Have recently become deeply interested in the history of the Divine Mercy devotions and want more. In all we do, may God, “have mercy on us and the whole world!” Thanks for sharing.


    • Jennifer says:

      You should check out the Marian fathers’ Divine Mercy app. So chock full of info about the history, theology, etc of divine mercy, I learned SO much there.

      • DismasDancing says:

        Been there, doing that, to use a tired phrase. And yes, what a treasure trove. Love the daily meditations. Thanks for the info. Does not surprise me that you are already using that site. Peace and blessings, my friend.

      • Jennifer says:

        Yes, the site and daily meditiations are great, but have you seen the app for your cell phone? Really great.

        Peace and blessings to you too, DD!


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