For the Sake of Mercy

Mount Doom

54-Cross

“Behold, the wood of the Cross, on which hung the Savior of the World!” (Source)

Mercy.

It has coursed through the veins of these reflections over this Lenten season. It has served as an overarching theme and an anchor of consideration. It has acted as a lens through which to consider the challenges and opportunities of Christian service in a new age and a changing world (now twelve of fourteen complete). It has resounded through the pages of The Lord of the Rings as much as it has in the musings of Pope Francis: for “the name of God is mercy.” And here, at the climax of both quests, it ends thus:

Mercy.

On the slopes of Mt. Doom do the final opportunities for mercy arise. Whether it be the mercy Sam displays by bearing Frodo to road’s end or the mercy Sam gives one last time to the lingering shadow of the tormented Gollum, it is mercy that sees the task complete and the Ring destroyed: “But for him, Sam, I could have not destroyed the Ring.” All the small and seemingly insignificant moments of mercy shown by and upon the hobbits – Gandalf and Aragorn, Galadriel and Faramir, Sam and Frodo – culminate in the fulfillment of the impossible. It is the very thing that Sauron and his minions and the Ring cannot comprehend that leads to their undoing and demise.

Mercy.

On Good Friday, amidst the brutality of the crucifixion and the burden of the Cross, the mercy of Christ shines forth all the brighter. The consolation of the women of Jerusalem; the promise to the Good Thief; the consideration for the care of his Mother; the constant and continual imploring for forgiveness: to the very end, the lingering core of Christ’s character exudes mercy. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” The whole of God’s plan is laid bare in an instant, and it is strategy rooted in a simple cause.

Mercy.

It is Good Friday of the Jubilee Year: the day of mercy of the year of mercy. We look upon the world that we have shaped and find such a dearth, such a lack, of mercy. In the midst of so much anger, so much bitterness, so much terror, so much pain, so much distrust, so much failure, so much misunderstanding, so much fear, and so much unraveling, mercy can see an impossible goal. Yet it is Good Friday of the Jubilee Year: the day of impossibility in the year of impossibility. God has died for us; all things are forgiven unto us. In the shadow of the Cross, we must clinger to the impossible, and renew our faith in, hope for, and love of that impossible grace.

Mercy.


2015’s Reflection: “On the End of All Things

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