Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI

Reflection for Oct. 30, 2016

From the 'scoundrels' to the 'deserving': God's mercy is for all

by Sister Ann Rehrauer

Since last December 8 when the “Year of Mercy” began, many have preached about the gracious mercy of our God, which we’ve all experienced.  During this year we also heard the call to imitate our God and BE merciful, especially through the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Today, the first reading from Wisdom and the story of Zaccheus remind us again that God shows mercy to all -- even to people WE might not feel deserve mercy.

We’ve all known good people who make mistakes, or those who’ve had a difficult upbringing and didn’t have much of a chance in life.  We can understand that God might show them mercy, especially if they expressed sorrow for their past.

But in today’s Scripture, Zaccheus was a tax collector, a collaborator with the Romans, someone who cheated his own people and made his living by extortion.  Why would God show mercy to such a scoundrel?

The gracious gift of mercy and forgiveness is given because of who God is –- not because the recipient is “deserving.” Perhaps Jesus saw in Zaccheus a desire to change his life. Perhaps he saw someone trapped by the need for wealth and possessions. Or perhaps Jesus simply felt pity for a man who seemed alienated from God and his fellow countrymen and didn’t know what to do. We don’t know the WHY. All we know is that Jesus offered mercy.

And we don’t know much about Zaccheus’ motivation. Did repentance come before or after the call by Jesus? Did he climb the tree out of curiosity or for another reason? All we know is that Zaccheus welcomed Jesus into his home and publicly committed himself to restore, four times, what he had misappropriated. Mercy begets goodness.

This week, can I find one person to whom I can show or extend the mercy of God in a concrete way?

If there is someone in my life that I can’t yet forgive, or to whom I can’t extend mercy, perhaps this week I can pray for the person that God will do (for the person and for me) what we are not yet able to do.


Dear Sister Ann,
What a beautiful reflection! Thank you!

"(Perhaps) I can pray for the person that God will do (for the person and for me) what we are not yet able to do."
WoW!! That is soooooo necessary, isn't it? For sure. What a powerful way to pray! Thank you for that, Ann!


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