Divine Mercy Sunday: The Way – the End of Mars
Most High Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart… the anguished call of Francis of Assisi seeking the gift of true faith, certain hope, and perfect Love.
Now we too have the courage to call out, “enlighten the darkness of my heart”. Each one of us who have been touched by grace knows our own darkness, knows our need for mercy, cries out for mercy, “have Mercy on me, God, for I have sinned!”.
Yet with the same lips, we call out for justice, “avenge us O God; see how they plot evil against us; destroy them so that we may have justice so that we am a have compensation”.
To see with new eyes this duality within us, both light and darkness, without suppression or rejection, I stand today with Thomas, unbelieving yet hopeful; justice now trumped by Mercy!
In a single instant, the world is thrown upside down. Touching the wounds of the Christ, all the teachings, all the structures, all the heritage of the generations, and all the heavy burdens of the ages fall away, meaningless, absurd. Touching the wounds of Christ, we touch the universal pattern of undoing death; all the striving and all the desires, everything that had been important up to this instant, discarded like the skin of the caterpillar.
Each one of us touches the wounds of Christ, in each other, and also within the world that we all have created; so much pain, so much suffering, and so much despair. We touch the wounds and we feel the pain, and the world can never be the same again. Do not divert your gaze, look upon the wounds, see them and touch them. Our ferocious caterpillar appetite is exposed and seen by everyone for the selfishness that it is. Now our tears, along with the tears of Mary Magdalene, wash the feet of Jesus.
What dare we now hope for as the Butterfly emerges? How may we hope that all will be saved, that all may be reconciled and redeemed? How can we return to this vision given to us by the Christ event?
Yes, the butterfly of a new consciousness is emerging and we as a people are facing the adventure of new possibilities, but first, we must discard the old wine-skins and images that no longer serve us as God’s family.
Much of religion has clung to the image of an embodied male God, the God of Mars, the God of War, the God of Empire, God made in our own image in all we can subdue, in all we can own and subjugate of man and beast alike, entitled and dominating.
We may acknowledge that God is spirit and that the church is our mother, yet these most ancient images of the men of Empire and subjugation clings to our language, our liturgy, and our art.
The church is our mother and we desperately need the compassion of a mother. Perhaps this lack of a motherly God-image is the reason for our well-developed reflexive muscle of “pay-back” and prejudicial justice, while Mercy hangs limply from the socket.
Without this mercy and forgiveness for myself, for others, and for all of creation, we are not free, and because Love needs freedom, un-forgiveness blocks us from experiencing Love, blocks us from experiencing God, blocks us from being authentic to our purpose continuing the work of redemption in the God-image.
This dominion over the earth, understood in a one-sided and superficial way, seems to leave no room for Mercy. If we do accept that we have been made by God who is good, made by Love and that the purpose of our lives must be to Love and to be Loved, our hearts will be forever closed in on ourselves, empty, and void of joy.
Love cannot exist without forgiveness and Mercy, as much as it cannot exist in indifference, because un-forgiveness is always about me and the past, is always about my opinions, my honour, my hurt, my loss, and of course, my needs. This opposes Love that is always about the other, Love needs the good of the other, Love must be in the present.
This is our great doubt and the great need; the tension between Justice and Mercy, the tension between our great need for forgiveness and our desire for retribution. Without finding that possibility of forgiveness in my own heart, we have blocked myself off from Mercy.
Without foregoing my own desire for compensation, for retribution, I have closed the door to the great gift of Mercy that Love offers us.
Together let us seek to discard all of these old images which can never portray the truth and beauty of the emerging butterfly. Like the butterfly, we must also learn to walk lightly in creation, to feel and participate in that energy of God’s spirit that pulsates throughout the universe.
Through this darkest of days, even as the grief and tears of a world at war blurs our vision, a breathtaking new image with all its’ possibilities is emerging. Imagine, imagine, just imagine a world setting aside all the weapons, the armies… standing down the troops of Mars. Most High Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our hearts…