November 7, 2016
by Jeanne Schuler
Creighton University's Philosophy Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 491

Titus 1:1-9
Psalms 24:1b-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
Luke 17:1-6

Praying Ordinary Time

The Mustard Seed of Mercy

The Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis concludes on the Feast of Christ the King this November.  The holy doors will close throughout the world.  But mercy does not end.  Its wondrous ways invite contemplation.  Jesus calls us to return.  We are not branded or scorned.  “A contrite heart, O Lord, you will not spurn.”   At first, we grasp only a little.  We expect criticism and reproach.  It is mercy that surprises us.  Who is so deluded as not to count the cost?  Our daily dealings do not prepare us for profligate love.  But the smallest encounter is transforming.  Mercy.  We yearn for You.

Paul chose Titus to build up the church on Crete.  In his letter, Paul lists the qualities of those called to serve as bishops.  They and their families should live simply and be hospitable and lovers of goodness.  In the midst of conflicts, presbyters remain “temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled.”  Rooted in religious truth and sound doctrine, they refute opponents at the proper time.  Paul greets Titus with the faith they share.  Peace is the sign of true guardians.

Who should lead?  As this election season draws mercifully to an end, we stumble to the ballot box to select candidates.  As faithful citizens, we seek the common good that might heal divisions.  In Nebraska, we are voting on the death penalty.  Do we retain the ban on execution?  Or do we bring the death penalty back?  In Luke’s gospel, Jesus at first tells us to throw the sinner into the sea with a millstone round his neck.  “Drown the wretch.”  But these fiery words change direction.  “If he repents, forgive him.”  Not once, not twice, but again and again.  This is the God of second chances.  This is who we are called to be. 

It begins small like a seed.  But mercy grows more powerful than all desire to strike the sinner down.  Here is the radiant presence of God in our midst.  Here is the lightness of being.  Here is the promise.

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