Jesus says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

God has mercy on us. Then—we come to know God as merciful.

It would be impossible for us to know God as merciful if He waited to show mercy until we knew that He was merciful.

Compassion. Kindness. Caring for the needs of others. Mercy doesn’t condemn or stand in judgment.

Mercy forgives.

We wouldn’t know this unless told.

Experience can’t teach it.

(more…)

Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with referring to today’s Gospel lesson as the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son—but—that’s not what Jesus says.

St. Luke writes: “So [Jesus] told them this parable…” (Luke 15:3).

This parable is singular—but three stories follow.

The gospel lesson for the Third Sunday after Trinity is either the first two stories (the lost sheep and the lost coin) or the third story (the lost son).

It’s not supposed to be all three—which is what was read today.

We read them all because Jesus told them this one parable. If nothing else, Jesus wants us to hear and understand them together.

And when we do that—the shock is maybe a little bit greater. (more…)

The Gospel is the “good news,” but in today’s Gospel lesson, everyone is invited, but not everyone comes.

It’s common, today, to hear the lament that we don’t desire everyone to be baptized or commune, that when a stranger walks in, we’re more ready to turn them away than we are to welcome them.

We’re not very hospitable, I’ve heard it said.

Well, neither is a hospital. Hospital. Hospitable. Hospitality. That’s what we’re talking about.

As a hospital refuses to dole out its medicine without an examination and prescription, so the Church refuses to pour out the medicine of immortality without first examining the sick and suffering soul seeking succor.

Everyone is invited and welcome.

We desire everyone to be baptized and to commune.

And—we care so much about the words of our Lord—the words of the Living God—we want to do things rightly. (more…)

Jesus said: “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:19-21).

That’s a pretty horrible situation regardless of which side of the fence you’re on. On the one hand, you have a rich man, undoubtedly powerful in his community. Influential. Probably popular. But Jesus doesn’t speak his name, because it’s not written in the Book of Life.

And, on the other hand, you have Lazarus. Poor and pathetic. Wounded in all ways. His sores attract and feed the dogs, but he is not comforted. (more…)