A Very “Mercy” Christmas

Inside the Actors Studio is a TV series that has interviewed over Famous actors, directors and writers reminisce about their careers and the philosophy behind their careers.
James Lipton interviews some of today’s most talented actors, directors, and writers. In the audience are students and famous alumni of the Actors Studio’s master of fine arts program. The interviewees talk about their childhood, how they got started in show business, their early career, and behind-the-scenes trivia. The interview concludes with a standardized questionnaire
One of the most famous interviews was one that went on for over four hours with Steven Spielberg. He too was asked the standardized questions at the end.
  1. What’s your favorite word? Yes
  2. What’s your least favorite word? No
  3. What turns you on or excites you? A good story.
  4. What turns you off? People who don’t listen.
  5. What sound or noise do you love: All my kids when they laugh. I have seven kids when they’re all laughing it’s a great sound.
  6. What sound do you hate? When they’re all crying at the same time.
  7. What is your favorite curse word? (Thankfully he said…) Rats
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A film composer
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Government
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
  11. He thinks turns his head and gets the most sincere look on his face: “Thanks for listening.”
The crowd kind of groaned, some oohed and ahhed and Mr. Spielberg realizing this chuckles and puts his hands next to his face like he’s just realized he’s given them a boring answer possibly putting them to sleep.
But it’s not a boring answer.  It’s a very profound and beautiful answer.
Imagine God so happy that we actually Listen to what he has to say to us… that we will listen to this savior that is born for us today… that you may even listen to what he wants to speak to your heart right now in this Liturgy… Imagine the Father saying to you… Thanks for listening.
“Do you hear what I hear?”
The nativity was only possible because of chosen people who listened.
The Angel spoke to Zechariah: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.
Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”  And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.  But now you will be speechless and unable to talk from that point on all he could do was… Listen.
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
Mary listened…  and said: Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.  She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”…When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
Joseph listened…
When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was listening…
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For at the moment, the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Elizabeth listened.
The whole world was to be enrolled… and Joseph listened… taking his pregnant wife on the long journey to the small town of Bethlehem.
Joseph listened even to the rejections of no room for them in the inn and so they ended up in that manger which would become the birthplace of our savior.
The Shepherds 
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.  The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.  The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
The Shepherds listened.
The Magi
Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”
The Magi listened.
They all listened and got to hear the newborn baby’s sounds. The Son of God heard in a way he had never been heard before.
When Jesus was born what’s the first sound Mary and Joseph heard? Was it a cry from their newborn king? Can you imagine the Son of God after waiting for all these millennia, and carried in the womb for nine months can probably make a sound? He cried out and God’s voice was heard from the mouth of a child… he cried out…
What was he crying for? I believe it was mercy.
2000 years later Christ now speaks through his Church… through the body of Christ… through you and me.
This year our Holy Father has spoken and named this the Year of Mercy. Listen…
Through the 2,000 years, God has been raising up saints to help us realize his mercy.
The Saint who God has most revealed his mercy to is Faustina.
Listen to the wonder and joy of St. Faustina as she encountered the Christ Child on Christmas Eve in 1937:
When I arrived at Midnight Mass, from the very beginning I steeped myself in deep recollection, during which time I saw the stable of Bethlehem filled with great radiance. The Blessed Virgin, all lost in the deepest of love, was wrapping Jesus in swaddling clothes, but Saint Joseph was still asleep. Only after the Mother of God put Jesus in the manger did the light of God awaken Joseph, who also prayed. But after a while, I was left alone with the Infant Jesus who stretched out His little hands to me, and I understood that I was to take Him in my arms. Jesus pressed His head against my heart and gave me to know, by His profound gaze, how good He found it to be next to my heart (Diary, 1442).
Jesus would say to her from the beginning over and over again: “Today, I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My merciful Heart.” (Diary 1588)
“You are the secretary of My mercy; I have chosen you for that office in this and the next life” … to make known to souls the great mercy that I have for them, and to exhort them to trust in the bottomless depth of My mercy”.
Right now in our age… what does God want us to hear loud and clear? MERCY
“The God who is beyond all understanding stoops to me under the appearance of a little Child.” (151 vision of infant at Eucharist 156)
God sent his only son into this world because he saw how much we were suffering. He saw that we had turned our backs on him and gone astray. He heard our cries for a savior.
And what does he give us when Christ is born? Mercy
God came to us as an infant so that you don’t ever have to be afraid to approach him.
If you have been away from the Church for a while… Listen…. Do you hear him calling you back?
Has it been years since you’ve been to confession, and you’ve made every excuse and even denied the need for it, but you have yet to hear His words… “I absolve you.” Come back to him in the sacrament of Confession and LISTEN… Listen to his mercy.
Listen too for those crying out in need. The church also calls us to BE merciful.
When the holy father opened the holy doors… did you hear the words that he spoke… Listen… no one can be excluded from God’s mercy.
Is there anyone that you have hardened your heart to?  Is there anyone that you know you need to forgive but haven’t.  Jesus commands us: “Unless you forgive you cannot be forgiven.”  This Christmas find it in your heart to show mercy and forgive that person.
We are also called to show mercy through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.  These are actions we can perform that extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need.
Corporal Works of Mercy
The Corporal Works of Mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.
  1. feed the hungry
  2. give drink to the thirsty
  3. clothe the naked
  4. shelter the homeless
  5. visit the sick
  6. visit the imprisoned
  7. bury the dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.
  1. counsel the doubtful
  2. instruct the ignorant
  3. admonish sinners
  4. comfort the afflicted
  5. forgive offenses
  6. bear wrongs patiently
  7. pray for the living and the dead
Christ is calling all of us to mercy… Listen
The church is speaking loud and clear…. Listen.
God is calling you right now to his mercy… Listen.
The savior of the world cries out for you as an infant… Listen
Listen to what God is saying right now in your heart… Listen
And if we do, maybe one day we might hear God say, in gratitude and in joy:
“Thanks for listening.”
Have a very “Mercy” Christmas….  and thank YOU for Listening.