It’s never too much to talk of love and mercy. God is a crucible of love and mercy – celestial material that humans yearn for. And be it between parents and children, husband and wife, neighbours, friends or foes, love and mercy are of the essence; they keep the machine of life oiled and running sweetly.

God the Father, who is the source of all that is good, has set the example. In the First Reading (Ex 32: 7-11, 13-14) God is rightfully angry with His people for forgetting Him Who had delivered them from the slavery of Egypt. Now they worship abominable little gods of their own making.

In the Gospel (Lk 15: 1-32), we read three delightful parables that highlight the extent of God’s love and mercy. The Divine Master’s abiding concern is to reach out to those in need, so He responds to those who fail to appreciate His mingling with sinners. Jesus speaks of the proverbial shepherd going out in search of his lost sheep and of a woman who is in search of a lost coin.

Alternatively, we could look at the lost sheep and the lost coin as entities hoping to be found or saved by their respective owners – in the same way as our spirits thirst for the love of the Father!

Yet, the most heart-warming part of the trilogy on redemption is that parable about the Prodigal Son. It covers a whole gamut of human experiences: if the younger son could be booked for greed, lust, gluttony and sloth, the pharisaic elder one is symbolic of pride, greed, envy and wrath. Between them they have all of the seven deadly sins! And whereas the son is prodigal – extravagant – with his money and possessions, the father is prodigal – overgenerous – with his love and mercy.

Finally, St Paul’s frank testimony (1 Tim 1: 12-17) echoes a common experience. Just as he acted out of ignorance, sometimes we too aren’t careful about how we judge people and situations. We dub parental concern or spousal devotion ‘paranoid’; neighbours’ concern, ‘inquisitiveness’; and friends suddenly become foes for unexplained reasons. In the midst of it all, and much against the evangelical command, we stay put and criticise everyone; we don’t care to lift even a finger to help those in need – maybe for fear of getting it wrong, or simply out of laziness or indifference!

That’s when it will pay to remember that the divine crucible of love and mercy is peppered with justice!

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