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We will receive God's mercy in our hour of need


By Fr Patrick McCafferty

The particular Word the Lord addresses to us this weekend, in churches all over the world, to strengthen our trust in Him, focuses, once more, our attention on His Son who has descended to the depths to raise us, with Him, to the highest heights.

The faithful people of God are those who hope in the love of Him who rescues their souls from death (Psalm 33:18-19).

The prophets of the Old Testament times invariably spoke God's Word, not in days of blessing and tranquillity, but in dire straits, in prolonged periods of terrifying danger and bewildering uncertainty.

God sent His Word to them, in the very worst of times, to steady His people, to guide and challenge them, to also comfort them in their great distress.

At such dark and frightening moments, the hope of God's people was ignited to burn ever more brightly. God's prophets inspired hope against hope when all seemed entirely hopeless; when there appeared to be no solution whatsoever.

Always at the centre of what the prophets announced there is an actual person whose arrival is promised, whose coming is expectantly and patiently awaited. That person of course is Jesus.

Do the people long for peace? "He Himself will be peace" (Micah 5:5). Do they sense that the Lord has abandoned them? His name shall be called Emmanuel, God is with us (Isaiah 7:14), He who is the very consolation of God (Isaiah 40:1) and the assurance that we are never forgotten by Him (Isaiah 49:15).

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All of these promises and messages, from the Heart of God to humanity, are announcements about His Son's coming among us "at the appointed time" (Galatians 4:4). All the promises of God are realised in Him (II Corinthians 1:20).

But let us carefully take note of the particular manner of how He is with us now that He has come. God's obedient Son is "crushed with suffering" in our midst as, in the anguish of His soul, He offers His life in atonement and takes our faults upon Himself (see Isaiah 53:10-11).

Let us carefully observe how He takes the lowest place, how He is among us as one who serves.

There is a baptism with which He must be baptised and there is a bitter cup of suffering that He must drink (see Mark 10:33-45). He has been tempted in every way that we are though He is without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

In order to bring us with Him to the highest heavens, our "supreme High Priest" descends into the lowest and darkest places inhabited by our humanity.

He, our ransom and our hope, is "without sin".

He cannot be contaminated by the infection of that plague which blights all of us. Rather, He Himself is the medicine which cures.

He Himself, the Precious Blood that streamed from His wounds in His Passion, is the cleansing and disinfecting of our souls. And so we can have complete and utter confidence in "the power of His indestructible life" (see Hebrews 7:16).

God Himself, our Creator, takes the lowest place in His creation in the sending of His Son to us. He enters into the very depths of our enfeeblement as a human person like us in all things but sin; but, in His Divine Nature, as the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, He lifts us up, out of the depths, by His mighty and saving strength.

He has heard the voice of our pleading who count on His Word (Psalm 130:1-5). God's Word is His Son. Let us "never let go of the Faith we have professed" in Him (Hebrews 4:14). Boldly approaching the Throne of Grace, we are certain of the mercy and grace we will receive from Him in our need.

Belfast Telegraph


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