Seeds of the Word - Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned

Photo: CNS/Eric Thayer, Reuters Photo: CNS/Eric Thayer, Reuters

Let us implore the mercy of the Lord in this most holy time of the year

We began our preparation to Easter with these words, as we repeated the antiphon of Psalm 50 on Ash Wednesday. Recalling that we are dust and that unto dust we shall return confronted us with our ephemeral reality. Sooner or later, our earthly life will come to an end. The moment of death is the moment of truth. There is no turning back. What is done is done. Before such reality, there is no alternative but being honest and acknowledge that our personal life has been characterized by our multiple sins. A spontaneous exclamation escapes from our lips then: Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned!

Imploring God’s mercy is rather significant in this jubilee year. Pope Francis wants all the church to experience God’s mercy. Hopefully as we journey to Jerusalem this Lent — in spite of the times we may have tripped and fallen — we have found multiple occasions to be merciful towards others. Hopefully we have been able to ask God for his forgiveness once and again for our endless sins.

God’s mercy reaches its summit in Holy Week. The Son of God, who incarnated and became one with us, bleeds out hanging from a cross. Little by little, he loses his blood, he loses his strength, he loses his breath, and he loses his life. There is only one reason behind his slow and painful sacrifice: his infinite love for us.

The cross may seem irrational. How can we explain that the Son of God dies on a cross for his creatures? Shouldn’t it be the opposite, according to human logic? Shouldn’t creatures die in holocaust for their God instead? But it turns out that God is deeply in love with us. Like every lover, he is capable of doing even the absurd if needed, to show how deep his love is.

There is only one explanation behind the cross: the infinite mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving us in spite of ourselves. In spite of our broken promises, in spite of our negation and betrayal, in spite of our constant selfishness, the Son of God is ready to risk his life for us. And he does!

Can we say God’s biggest gamble is worth our life when we make an honest examination of the way we live? Is it truly worth it that Christ dies on a cross for you? And for me?

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal One, have mercy on us! For you led your people out of Egypt and sent your Son to the world. Yet, we built a cross for our Savior.

Have mercy on us, for you open up the sea before us so we can escape from our oppressor. Yet, we opened your side with a lance.

Have mercy on us, for you lead our life every day. Yet, we led you into Pilate’s palace.

Have mercy on us, for you feed us with your holy Eucharist as you fed your People with manna in the desert. Yet, we rained on you blows and lashes.

Have mercy on us, for you quench our thirst with your blood, so we may have eternal life. Yet, for drink we gave you gall and vinegar.

Have mercy on us, for you made us of your chosen people. Yet, we put on your head a crown of thorns.

Have mercy on us, for you never cease to hold our hand to raise us every time we fall. Yet, we hung you on the scaffold of the cross.

In this great jubilee, Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal One, have mercy on us!

Read the Spanish version of this “Semillas de la Palabra” column from the March 2016 issue of NORTHWEST CATHOLIC.

Mauricio I. Pérez, a member of St. Monica Parish on Mercer Island, is a Catholic journalist. His website is