Monday, December 15, 2014

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent - St. Mary of Egypt

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
And those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
The Lord redeems the lives of his servants;
No one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
 - Psalm 34:19, 23

Sacred Scripture reminds us that God “knows how we were formed; that we were made of dust” (Psalm 103:14). These simple, unsophisticated words are in fact a profound statement of faith. They acknowledge that all that we have and are is a gift of God. Beyond this, we are also reminded that we are all made of the same “stuff”—we are all capable of every sinful act the human mind can imagine. Our shared, broken human nature is the great equalizer.

Mercy is that compassion or forgiveness that is shown toward someone, even when it is within one’s power to punish or harm the offender. To say that God is all-merciful is to acknowledge that God also has absolute power. For our part, we show mercy because we remember that we are like other people.

Many of us have a stereotype of saints that make them larger-than-life figures possessing an extraordinary holiness that is so far removed our experience that they become irrelevant. And yet, in reading their lives and writings, we quickly discover that the saints recognized their need for God’s mercy much more readily than many of us in our most contrite moments.
An icon showing scenes
from the life of St. Mary of Egypt

For Saint Mary of Egypt, God’s mercy became the sole focus of her life. After undergoing a profound conversion, abandoning life as a prostitute after being moved by an icon of the Mother of God holding her infant Son, her entire life became one long vigil, wandering in the desert, “looking for the Lord who saves the poor.”[1]

We don't often think of Advent is a season of mercy. But, as we look forward to celebrating the coming of Christ in history, mystery, and majesty during the Christmas Season, we have these days to prepare. So, don't spend these final days of Advent passively allowing time to pass while we wait for Christmas. Make the most of the time we have by seeking reconciliation for yourself and offering forgiveness to those who need your mercy and compassion.

Prayer for Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent +
O God, who through your Only Begotten Son
have made us a new creation,
look kindly, we pray,
on the handiwork of your mercy,
and at your Son's coming
cleanse us from every stain of the old way of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)

[1] See “On Mary the Egyptian and Zosimus” by Flodoard of Rheims in Saint Mary of Egypt: Three Medieval Lives in Verse, Hugh Feiss and Ronal Peppin, transl. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 2005. 64

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