By Fr Michael Boudaher
It’s mercy night at St Raymond’s Parish but don’t worry, you’re not going to get a Sunday-length homily from me tonight.
Instead, I only want to say a few words and then I want you to listen carefully for the voice of the Lord.
Now some of us may have heard about the Lord’s mercy. We understand it and go confession regularly.
Or maybe, we don’t really know what this sacrament is about; perhaps we don’t know how to confess or if we should.
Or maybe, we’re just so tired of falling into the same sins again and again that we have become discouraged and disheartened.
Maybe we say to ourselves “Jesus must be so sick and tired with me.” We’ve all had this thought at one time or another.
“I have promised him so much, I have made so many resolutions, and I always fall again; it is impossible that he does not get tired of it.”
“How could God possibly love me when I do not think there is anything worth loving in me?”
But this is not true. There is simply no limit to his mercy. There is no limit to his patience.
He does not get tired of forgiving us. And, it’s not that he gets tired of us, it’s that we get tired of looking at our own ugliness.
We can’t bear to come into the confessional and repeat the same sins again and again.
Simply put, we just have to accept that God does not see things the same way we do. The Scriptures constantly show that God loves the repentant sinner.
That every time we make a good confession, all the angels and saints in heaven rejoice.
There isn’t a single story in the Scriptures where God turns away a person who is truly sorry.
This understanding of God’s mercy is rooted in the biblical account of the annunciation, which we celebrate in the Maronite Liturgical Calendar this week, and where the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she has found favour with God and will conceive a son who will be called the Son of the Most High (Lk 1:30-33).
Mary’s response to the angel’s message, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38), exemplifies her acceptance of God’s plan and her trust in his mercy.
This passage—much like the Virgin Mary’s responses always—shows us the importance of recognising our need for God’s mercy and accepting his love, just as she did.
But why does God do this for us? Why does he keep coming after us? He is the God of the universe, who has everything. He needs nothing.
Why does it matter to him whether or not we seek mercy? It is because he is our Father and he says to us, “You matter to Me. I formed you in your mother’s womb and I have never taken my eyes off you ever since.”
That is the peace we will find in his mercy. So, let us pray that on this mercy night, we will hear the voice of the Father say to us, “You matter to Me.”
This is an excerpt from a homily for St Raymond’s mercy night on 15 November 2023
Fr Michael Boudaher is Secretary General at the Maronite Eparchy of Australia. He is also Assistant Parish Priest and Youth Chaplain at Saint Raymond’s Maronite Catholic Church in Auburn (NSW).