Mercy Lays Claim to Us
‘Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.’
How dependent am I on Jesus? Fickle, at best. Yes, I nourish sweet notions of Him at dawn’s early light and may even hear His still small voice. Yet post-prayer I may curse Him in the pinch of domestic overload and am quick to refuse Him interpersonally in prideful self-justification.
This flies in the face of merciful Jesus who pleads to hold our gaze long after the devotional moment. He has earned the right to do so. His outpouring at Calvary—Blood, Water, Spirit—lays claim to the whole of our lives. Here we must take seriously and personally Scriptural references to His ransom of us (Mk. 10:45; Heb. 9:15) through His purchase of our lives (Rev. 5:9)—how He ‘buys’ us at the expense of His life (1 Cor. 6:20). Jesus gave all to gain us. Mercy lays claim to us.
A part of me chafes at this: ‘Yeah, well, spiritually His, maybe. But I’m still my own person. Isn’t mercy about setting people free? How free am I if I’m “bought”’?
Maybe the question hinges on how we define freedom. To be sure, freedom must involve choice. And Jesus grants us that choice freely. I can surrender to His ransoming me from sin’s domination or not. That’s where Lent comes in. Our time in the desert exposes varying degrees of separation, inner strongholds that refuse to yield to Him. In the light and heat, I check uneasily my restless spirit; I glimpse the vacillation between composure and grasping my cell phone like a fig leaf.
The desert is clear. It humbles us in its clarity. Spacious spaces expose our little attachments and woo us to let go, to let Him in. Lent invites us to unclasp hands stuffed with vain things and take His. A small sacrifice: we let go as to take up.
Divine Mercy sanctifies our surrender. Jesus woos us out of the small enslavements that weary and divide then deride us with dull accusations. He has won us over with ‘living water’; we can only cringe at the acrid taste of our own cisterns. It helps me to understand His loving insistence as the Bridegroom who woos me to make me new, virginal, for Himself. Origen describes the ‘wound in Christ’s side’ as the transformational stream through which we are ‘made His Bride.’
Hosea prophesied that encounter with Divine Mercy: ‘On that day, you will call Me ‘my Husband’, no longer ‘my master’…I will remove the idols from your lips…I will betroth you to Me forever…’ (Hos. 2:16-20). I can still weary myself in petty resistance. Or I can repent out of love for this sweet Spouse who knows that only my surrender to Himself will yield Love’s benefits—composure, love, peace, joy.
‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body’ (1 Cor. 6: 19, 20).