Misericordia et misera

Misericordia et misera
Gospel reflection on the Feast of Divine Mercy
by Fr. Binu Scaria SDB

The mystery of God’s love is expressed in the best way in the meeting of mercy and misery as expressed by the words misericordia et misera which means mercy and misery. This was an expression given by St. Augustine to recount the story of Jesus meeting the woman caught in adultery. This was the title of the apostolic letter on mercy and peace by Pope Francis. God who is all merciful meets us in our miserable conditions as he met the disciples in their state of disbelief after the resurrection. God’s mercy transformed the doubting Thomas to an ardent disciple with his loud proclamation of faith, “My Lord and My God.” This is the message of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Reading through the bible we come across many weak and vulnerable people whom God called for different types of mission. Noah was drunk, Abraham was too old, and Isaac was a day dreamer. Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, and Joseph was abused. Moses had a stuttering problem and Gideon was afraid. Samson had long hair and was a womaniser. Jeremiah and Timothy were too young and David had an affair and was a murderer. Elijah was depressive and suicidal. Isiah preached naked, Jonah was disobedient and ran away from God. Naomi was a widow and Job went bankrupt. Peter denied Christ, Martha was worried about everything, and the Samaritan woman was divorced more than once. Zacchaeus was too small, Paul was too religious, and Timothy had an ulcer. Yet, Jesus helped them all.

To illustrate this point, Greg Ogden in his book, “Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time”, wrote an interesting fictional memorandum sent by a fictional consulting company called Jordan Management Consultants to Jesus who was looking to fill management positions in his new organization. This fictional company examined the 12 apostles and found problems in almost all of them proving them to be incapable of anything. The memorandum stated: “Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of anger. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, placed personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. Matthew has been blacklisted, James the son of Alpheus and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic depressive scale.” But these disciples who were not qualified by human standards became more than efficient because of God’s mercy. That is why St. Paul said “So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy (Romans 9:16). Let us pray that His mercy leads us from misery to richness so that we can also proclaim Jesus just like Thomas and the disciples.

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