Thursday, April 10, 2008

Misericordias Domini

Misericordias Domini = the mercy of God.

The first words of the Introit for the Second Sunday after Easter are from the second half of Psalm 33:5
The earth is full of the mercy of Lord.

This Introit is chosen in connection with the pericopal readings that direct us to know the Lord as our Shepherd. This week’s sermon from the Gospel reading focuses upon this as well, but in this post I wish to focus upon the last sentence of the Epistle reading from 1 Peter 2:21-25,
For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Truly this sets the mercy of God, Misericordias Domini, in its proper perspective. The mercy of God is entirely unidirectional. It is an entirely one-sided mercy, as true mercy must be. Easter, the Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord, is truly a glorious demonstration of this. From beginning to end, our salvation is the result of God’s mercy. God gave His only-begotten Son for the sake of the world that we might be saved by grace through faith. God foretold these events by which our salvation would be procured. God brought all things to fruition. God in the flesh willingly suffered the Sin of the world, carrying it in His own person, to the cross and grave. God in the flesh raised His body again. He appeared in the flesh to show His disciples the reality of everlasting life and to carry our humanity to the throne of God both to intercede for us and to judge us according to His own righteousness. He established His Church on earth, equipped with the office of the ministry so that the ministry would be carried out and that we would hear the preaching of the pure Gospel and be washed with the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit and fed and kept in the unity of His body and the forgiveness of His blood.

This all is His doing.

Thus Saint Peter refers to us as those who “are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Notice that this is a passive verb. We do not return to the Lord, but rather we are returned to Him. As the Shepherd, He seeks us out and brings us back into His fold. There we are kept safe by the peace of God that surpasses all understanding as we partake of His Holy Communion until He comes again.

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