SASKATOON — Even though the Jubilee Year of Mercy has ended, we must continue to celebrate God’s mercy and live it out in our communities, said Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, OMI, during the first in a two-part lenten series hosted by the Foundations: Exploring Our Faith Together program in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
Lent is a perfect season to focus on the message of God’s mercy, reflecting on what it means for our lives, and what it means for our relationships, Wiesner said March 8 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
In exploring the reality of God as “a gracious God, a God rich in mercy,” it is necessary to begin with Scripture and discover what “God shares about God’s self and God’s relationship with us,” said Wiesner, the retired bishop of Prince George, who is now living in Saskatoon.
Beginning with Exodus, where Moses discovers a God “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” Wiesner explored the scriptural concept of hesed, which expresses God’s unconditional love.
“We don’t merit it, we don’t earn it, we don’t deserve it,” he said of God’s boundless love. “It surpasses human imagination and human thought.”
God puts up with a great deal and remains faithful to the covenant, even when we do not, stressed Wiesner: “God is faithful. All the time. God keeps that steadfast love.”
God’s mercy is manifest in Jesus Christ, he said. Again Wiesner turned to Scripture, exploring the parable of the Good Samaritan and describing the compassion that Our Lord has for the widow of Nain whose only son has died. Compassion is not pity or sympathy, but a profound walking with someone through pain or suffering.
The mercy of God is not only proclaimed and revealed by Jesus; it is lived by Jesus, Wienser stressed. “Pope Francis says that Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy . . . it is the compassion of God that we find in Jesus.”
At the heart of the Lord’s prayer is the reality of a divine person who knows us, hears us, and loves us, stressed Wiesner. “Our Father in heaven is not distant from us.” In pouring out love and mercy, God is being true to God’s self, he said. “No one is excluded.”
“It is not by creation or by the providential care of creation, but above all by pardoning and showing mercy” that God manifests who God is, Wiesner summarized, quoting an opening prayer from the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
“God will never tire of being merciful to anyone.”