I finished up what I might call “a triduum of mercy” yesterday: three presentations of essentially the same material to different audiences, prompted by the fact that we are halfway through the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis last December. Yesterday I was reflecting with a group of high school teachers at the school where I began my own professional ministry 45 (!) years ago. I was heartened by each of these experiences because of the willingness of the participants to enter deeply into the process with me. I learned that their appropriation of the expansive nature of the quality of mercy was an integral part of their daily living and was understood as a movement of reciprocity with God, individual persons and the world. It went far beyond a plea to God to “have mercy on us” in forgiving our sin to an abiding certainty of relationship, illustrated in a brief video that ended our time together yesterday. The DVD Lump by Rob Bell, a story of a father’s love for his son, concludes with the following statements:
There is nothing you could ever do that could make me love you less. There is nothing you could ever do that could make God love you less. Nothing. Nothing…
I know I have come to sound like a broken record that keeps repeating the centrality of the message of love that is reciprocal and unstinting but it appears again today in the readings for this feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Jesus continues to ask Peter (and us) “Do you love me?” and then, receiving an affirmative response, directs him (and us) to feed people – to love people because of his (and our) love for God, keeping the energy of love flowing around the world and down through the ages. This, as I see it, is our task. This is merciful living, Godlike loving. This is the way to live.