At the root of every good thing is the mercy of God. We can think of it in this way: the precondition for any good thing that we receive is that we exist to receive it. Existence and life are ways of talking about the first gift of God. We didn't ask to exist, we didn't deserve it (because we weren't), God chose to grant us existence and so doing laid the groundwork for every other gift he desires to give us.
So at the root of whatever else we might attribute in our lives to the mercy of God, that we are, is the first. It is better to be than not to be. I have meant people who when asked how they are doing, respond with "I am blessed." I admit that sometimes, particularly when I am having a bad day, this can be an annoying response, but we could all truthfully say it, no matter what trials are facing us in any given moment. What if we cultivated an awareness on our part that God has continually blessed us and that we are recipients of his gifts way above what we would ever have a claim to? We are all recipients of God's mercy.
Perhaps we can grow in our awareness of God's merciful love toward us by counting our blessings. Reflecting on the mercies and gifts of God is an expression of prayer, that language of hope that I was talking about last Sunday. We can certainly reflect on the great gift that God makes of Himself this Christmas in the Advent of the Incarnate Word, God made flesh, in Christ Jesus.
In his Wednesday audience this last week, the Pope calls Jesus, Mercy made flesh. He encouraged us as we walk through the doors of mercy to discover the infinite mercy of the Father. He says, "To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God's Mercy." He is referring to the passage of the prodigal son, a good place to start with God's mercy next week. Pray now that this Year of Mercy be what it is, a time in which we grow in our awareness and experience of God's merciful love.
Thank you, for your words of prayer for the death of my grandma. As some of you have heard, I was at my grandmother's funeral last week. The condolences and prayers offered by so many were really comforting. I really want to thank those responsible from the parish who arranged to have flowers sent to my grandmother's Lutheran church in the middle of no where Wisconsin - that took some very serious detective work. Thank you, again, to everyone for your prayers.
Last Week's Homily Suggestion: Pray the rosary. There are many Catholic apps that can remind you how if it has been awhile. For something cool, look up the Miracle of the Sun from our Lady's appearance at Fatima, or read something about Our Lady of Guadalupe. For Our Lady of Guadalupe, try: http://www.cruxnow.com/faith/2014/12/12/four-awesome-facts-about-our-lady-of-guadalupe/