Our Calling to Be Channels of Divine Mercy

Is. 56:1,6-7; Rom 11:13-15,29-32; Mt 15:21-28

We must have experienced it before in prayer – the silence of God and feeling distant from Him. We pour out prayers to Him, begging Him for things that we believe are in accord with His will for us and yet we feel abandoned and ignored by God.

Could it be that God is inviting us at those moments to be willing channels of His merciful love to others? Could it be that we were being called to more than intercessory prayers at such moments?

How did Jesus merit the mercy of God for us? He hung dying on the cross, crying out to the Father for our sake, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34). All the while, He so experienced the silence and abandonment of His Father that He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mk 15:34).

If Jesus prayed and suffered for us while enduring the silence of the Father in order to merit for us the mercy of the Father, how in the world can we hope to bring this merciful love to others without praying, suffering evils, and enduring the silence of God? We just cannot bring the mercy of God to others by simply praying for them.

Jesus invited the Canaanite woman in Mt 15:21-28 to become a channel of His merciful love to her daughter. She came to Him pleading for mercy, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” Jesus wanted more than her mere prayers for her daughter’s deliverance.

Jesus’ first response to her request was utter silence, “But Jesus did not say a word in response to her.” She was not discouraged by His silence but continued to cry out to Him, “Lord, help me.”

She also endured rejection from the disciples who were quick to dismiss her as a nuisance. They said to Jesus, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” She experienced isolation and the indifference of others. Despite her anguished prayers, she did not experience any support at all from Jesus’ disciples.

Lastly, she heard the rather belittling response of Jesus, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She endured this too and attested to her unworthiness and the abundance of gifts that flow from divine goodness, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”

Jesus then declared her a channel of His liberating mercy to her possessed daughter, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” She instantly received the deliverance she desired as well as the affirming words of Jesus about her faith.  

St. Paul declares the depth and extent of divine mercy when he said, “For God delivered all to disobedience, that He might have mercy upon all.”(Rom 11:32) God in Christ desires to have mercy on all of us, Jews or non-Jews. He even permits our rebellion so that He can extend His mercy to all persons.

We are all in need of this mercy of God at any given point in our lives. Without this merciful love of God, we cannot repent of our sins, face our sinfulness, beg for His grace, do any good, or persevere in any undertaking for His sake. We cannot serve or obey God, overcome any evil, or be His witness without His mercy.

From the very moment of the Incarnation when God took on our human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, human beings, by virtue of their union with Christ and dependent on Him, can be instruments of divine mercy in this world. We can experience this mercy of God and communicate it to others through our own prayers, sufferings, and endurance of the silence of God in our lives.

I was reminded of this truth recently after Holy Mass when a single mother shared the story of her only daughter who had moved in with her female lover. This mother sobbed uncontrollably and begged me to promise her to pray for her daughter to be delivered from the self-destructive and damnable homosexual lifestyle. She would not let me leave until I promised to pray for her daughter by name.

I still remember her daughter’s name and I pray for her. But I know that my prayers are not enough. I know that there are sacrifices and sufferings that I must embrace too by the grace of God. I will surely experience the silence of God in my prayers too if I am going to be Jesus’ channel of mercy to this poor soul and others like her.

We see many similar examples of spiritual bondage in our world. Family and friends who have fallen away from the faith. Homes broken by infidelity of the spouses or from different forms of addition. People who think that they can choose and alter their gender at will. Clergy sexually abusing minors, covering it up, and pretending nothing ever happened. Many are living in the illusion that they have the right to take the life of the unborn infant. It sure seems that Satan is having a field day in our world today.  

What are we doing about all these? Are we just going to talk about it like the secular media love to do? Are we going to try and just ignore it and hope that it will somehow go away, and things will magically get better? Are we going to be among the insensitive group that would only seek for their personal salvation and allow souls redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus to wallow in the filth of sin? Are we going to be the wrathful ones who only remind others of their imminent damnation? Are we part of the tolerant “Who am I to judge?” crowd? Or are we going to just play the blame game without taking any personal responsibility?

Let us learn from the Canaanite woman and bring all the sinfulness in our lives and in our world to Jesus at every Mass where He makes His saving sacrifice on Calvary present under the signs of bread and wine. We cannot do anything about personal and communal on our own.  We must first unite ourselves to Jesus completely in each Eucharist because “without Him we can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) Unless we first experience and embrace His merciful love for us sinners, we do not have the spiritual power to communicate this liberating mercy to other souls.

Then let us pray fervently and perseveringly for others in the cruel slavery of the devil and sin. God may respond with silence as usual. We may still feel far from Him as we pray. But He is always with us, ready to communicate His mercy to all through us. If we continue to pray while enduring the sufferings of life and this silence of God, we will become His channels of mercy today. This is how God’s saving mercy in Christ will surely touch many souls in His own time and in His own way. 

Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!

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Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at  www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

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