WEDNESDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
READ: ISAIAH 49:8-15
Thus says the LORD: In a time of favor I answer you, on the day of salvation I help you; and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, To restore the land and allot the desolate heritages, Saying to the prisoners: Come out! To those in darkness: Show yourselves! Along the ways they shall find pasture, on every bare height shall their pastures be. They shall not hunger or thirst, nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them; For he who pities them leads them and guides them beside springs of water. I will cut a road through all my mountains, and make my highways level. See, some shall come from afar, others from the north and the west, and some from the land of Syene. Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth, break forth into song, you mountains. For the LORD comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted. But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me." Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.
What should erupt from our hearts as we read this passage today is a song of praise, of gratitude. We are even instructed to do so. "Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth, break forth into song, you mountains." Why? "For the LORD comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted."
Do you know what the word mercy means? It isn't just to forgive, as many people think. Mercy comes from the Latin, misericordia. It literally means to have a “miserable heart” for someone else. To show mercy is to share in someone else's misery. And this is the heart of our God for us. On the Cross, Jesus shows us mercy by taking on our misery: our sin and the suffering, unhappiness, and death it causes.
We read about this in our passage today. "Come out!" he urges. "Show yourselves!" he lovingly commands. God's mercy is greater than empathy. It breaks every chain, and in His love, darkness becomes light. Our God wants to come and restore us to him, free us from sin, enlighten out minds, protect our souls, provide his grace, guide us to truth and love, and comfort us with his presence. Today, let's be honest with Him about where we are "miserable"--in sin and in suffering--and allow Him to show us mercy.
What sin do you need to "come out" of?
How can we show ourselves to God in a more authentic way?
What does this reading tell you about the heart of God?
In what way do you have a misery heart?
How does our reading today move you to "sing out...and rejoice"?
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful. The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works. The LORD is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works. The LORD lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The LORD is just in all his ways and holy in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. R. The Lord is gracious and merciful
How can you show mercy to someone else today, in imitation of the one who has shown you mercy?
"Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?"
-St. Gregory of Nyssa