The painting is called “The Last Supper” by Leonardo DaVinci. It is said that while Leonardo was painting it, he was in the middle of a nasty feud with a fellow painter. To take revenge, he decided to use the face of his enemy for Judas. As he continued to work on the painting, he seemed to have no problem with the faces of the Apostles. But he could get nowhere with the face of Jesus. Why?
Today we read from the Chapter 15 of Luke – the Chapter of Mercy. We have become so used to the stories, we forget how unusual they are.
- Search of a lost coin. This coin is worth about 5 cents. When I was little, we were happy to pick up a penny – gum ball machine. Not any more. No one cares. Turn your house upside down for a coin? No way!!
- Search of a lost sheep. Has 100. He has lost one. Not bad at all. USA 1.5% stolen. This is only 1% loss. Write it off. You are going to risk losing more if you go off to search.
- Lost son. Really, would you bother after he has told you to drop dead. But since you are not yet dead, give me my share of the inheritance now! Yet, this crazy father is waiting, looking watching – robe, ring, shoes.
Pope Francis keeps teaching us – this is the mercy of God – and our worth to him.
So now – in turn – forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us! As we have received mercy – we are to show mercy.
Mercy First to God. Yes God. Some of us hold God accountable for everything, every bad thing, every sickness. Yet God loved us so much He gave us the gift of free will, which includes enormous risks. Some choose a dark path, and it affects all of us. Can we forgive God for loving us in this way, and trust in that love?
Forgive others. I did not dare speak of mercy after Sept 11. It was too raw. And it still hurts. And it will always hurt. What should our response be – more hate, more anger, more bitterness? Do we want to become like them? Mercy.
Forgive self. I read in the paper today about a man, Aaron McClamb who loved firefighters. And, when Ladder 115 left Brooklyn to go to the World Trade, he took pictures. His famous picture is of Ladder 115 on the Brooklyn Bridge. It symbolized all who gave their lives. No one on that truck returned. For 10 years after he suffered survivor’s guilt.
There are lots of thing we wish we said, would have done or should have done. Learn to let go! You see, today is the day, today is the gift. Today is the opportunity to make a difference. Will we?
What did DaVinci have to do? In time, he began to understand what was wrong. In order to paint the face of Jesus, he had to change the face of Judas. He had to show mercy. He had to become like Jesus.