Jan. 13, 2016
By Father William Muench
This year has already taken on the special character as the Jubilee of Mercy. I have personally noticed the many times that the word “mercy” comes up in the prayers at Mass.
I often pause when I come upon the word “mercy” in a prayer as I pray at the altar as the celebrant of the Mass. So, I have begun to take a deeper look at these prayers and their meaning of the whole idea of God’s “mercy.”
“Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
This prayer continues the message of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught the apostles the Lord’s Prayer when they asked him to teach them to pray. The most startlingly idea in the prayer – especially, in those days – was that he began this prayer by telling his apostles to approach God as “Our Father.” In that time, people thought of God with fear and awe, the God who came to Moses on Mount Sinai in thunder and fire. Now, Jesus wants us to know that God wants to be a loving Father for all people.
In the Lord’s Prayer – we honor God and dedicate ourselves to carry out “his will.” Then we ask God to “give us our daily bread,” not just food for our body but also the sustenance for our soul through the Blessed Eucharist.
At the altar, the priest celebrant continues the Lord’s Prayer with this prayer we are considering. This prayer continues the theme of the final sentence of the Lord’s Prayer as we ask God to continue to “deliver us from every evil.” We ask for peace, peace now in our days.
The prayer confirms the purpose that we want this “peace.” We want that peace so that “we may be always free from sin.” We want that peace so that we can “be safe from all distress.” To accomplish this we pray that God will give us the “help of your mercy.”
God’s “mercy” is more than forgiveness or a caring love. God’s mercy brings us power – God’s power – to “free us from sin and keep us safe from all distress.”
The “mercy” of God gives us protection and help, the protection that gives us the wisdom and the strength of will to help us make good decisions and help us to avoid sin.
In addition, this “mercy of God” will keep us safe from all distress. Distress is that painful and disturbing feeling that causes us to be confused so that we end up making poor decisions. “God’s mercy” brings us the power of the Lord as a protection and a help.
All of this takes place so that we can be strong and holy and alive in the way we live our lives. We will then wait with confidence and hope for the coming of Our Savior Jesus Christ.
“Mercy” – “God’s mercy” is an important part of another prayer, the Opening Prayer of the Mass for the Third Sunday of Lent.
“O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness, who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving have shown us a remedy for sin, look graciously on this confession of our lowliness that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up by your mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.