The Mercy of God; Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent

The image of the people of Israel worshiping a golden calf, stands perhaps as one the best representations of rebellion against God in the bible. Let’s recall the story of what took place.

Not very long before this incident, this very group of people had been living in slavery in the land of Egypt. But God was able to free them from the hands of their captors and, with Moses as their leader they journeyed through the desert towards a land that God had promised them in order to start new life. As they journeyed, God established with the people a covenant and a rule of life by which they were to honor and love God and one another and, in return, God promised that he would love them and protect them and never leave them. This covenant which was established was to last forever.

In order to ratify or to seal this deal between God and man, Moses climbs to the top of Mount Sinai where he is to meet God face to face. But, in order to do this, he must leave the others behind. What could possibly go wrong. If you have ever been the parent of teen-aged children, and you left them home alone for a weekend for the first time you might be able to remember the worries that went through your mind.

No sooner has Moses left the people then they begin to act out. “Where’s Moses”, they say. “He has been gone so long and left us on our own.” Suddenly the structure that has kept this group together through a difficult journey begins to breakdown. The rules that had been established for the good of the society and everything that is in the covenant is quickly forgotten and, as a result, they get it in their  minds to construct an idol out of gold and they begin to celebrate what they consider to be their new found freedom.

What would you do if you were God? Imagine coming home from your well-earned weekend away only to find that your loving children have turned the house upside down and the neighbors have had to call the police because of the noise. We would react as God reacted and naturally, God was furious.

Lucky for the people Moses was there to intervene. In a way he is kind of like the calming influence of Mom when Dad is ready to hit the ceiling. Moses reminds God of all that they have been through. The generations of people that God has walked beside and the time they have shared. And, yes, they are a very stiff-necked and stubborn people, but at the end of the day, he reminds God, that he loves them. Pausing to consider what Moses is saying and knowing it is true, God relents and shows mercy.

We have received so much mercy from God. Time after time we fail and fail again. As St. Paul says, we do so many things that we know we shouldn’t, and we don’t do nearly enough of the things we know we should. Yet God continues to love us. We are his stiff-necked and stubborn people and God never gives up on us.

The season of Lent is a time for us to remember the mercy we have been shown and to be grateful to God. We can show our gratitude by sharing what we have received. God’s mercy abounds, let us be merciful to one another.


  1. Good morning +Jon,

    Thank you for today’s homily.

    Again this morning I watched today’s Eucharist being celebrated at Trapper’s Lake.

    Today’s homily was inspiring with good biblical background – and relevant reference to teens being left alone!

    Let us continue our Lenten journey to Easter by focusing on prayer, living simply and sharing generously. Joe


  2. Thanks Fr. Joe. I certainly don’t want to leave the impression that teenagers are not to be trusted but every parent knows there will be growing pains as adolescents mature into young adults. Yet, even through those difficult moments a parent’s love is constant and so is the mercy and love of God. Blessings on your day.


  3. Bishop Hansen, thank you for your celebration of mass online at this time, and for your homilies. We are being blessed by them! I am fairly new to Yellowknife and wonder at the beauty of God’s planning, that in this moment, we are being fed by the Spirit of the Living God flowing through your words, thank you. We feel very much God’s Love at this time. I heard a priest recently, online in Vancouver, saying, ‘Priests are working very, very, hard to bring Jesus to you. He wants to be near to you. We need Him more than ever!’ Thank you for bringing us close to Jesus.
    Karen Christie


    1. Thank you Karen for your very kind words. It is a privilege to be able to say Mass while so many are unable to even go into a church. I am thankful the technology allows me to share the experience in this way until we can resume our normal routines. Thanks for taking part.


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