We are those who live in a world which struggles to distinguish between what something costs and what it is worth. So powerful is this trend that we face Christ and seek to put a price on grace. He responds with infinite love and mercy and with a command that seems irrational when we first hear it. He says to us, who think ourselves rich, that we are to receive freely from him.
The reason for his offer is that, in God's economy, we are the poorest of the poor, poorer than ever because we think ourselves rich. Our money and wealth is like the toy money in a children's game: it may buy goods in our human economies which seem so powerful, but in the economy of God it is worthless. We are only truly rich when we accept mercy from God, through Christ our Saviour.
Our imaginary economy, which we treat as real, not only deceives us into spending our worthless money on things that do not satisfy, but it drains our energies in the pursuit of illusions.
Look around us at Europe today and hear the truth of the words God speaks to us. The greatest wealth in European history has ended in the tragedies of debt and slavery. Our economies that can spend so much are merely sandy foundations. Despite it all, we find dissatisfaction and despair: in the breakdown of families; in hunger and inequality; in turning to extremists. Riddled with fear, resentment and anger, we seek ever more desperately, fearing the stranger, not knowing where to find courage.
Yet God calls to us in mercy, to each of us and all of us together. He offers wealth that is real and will bring satisfaction. He calls for us to listen, to eat, to come, to trust.
We are to listen. How do we hear God? So often in the mouths of the most helpless and the poorest. Jean Vanier of L'Arche tells us that those with great disabilities speak powerfully of hope, of purpose and of love to those who think they are strong.
He calls us to eat. We eat above all in the Eucharist, in sharing the body and blood of Christ, so that we feast. To eat with God is to have more than enough so that we become people of generosity, of abundance that overflows.
He calls us to come. One of our great poets, George Herbert starts a poem about the mercy of Christ, "love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back ..." We draw back because we do not believe that mercy, that love so freely given, is for us. Our sins cry out, but Christ cries louder "come ..."
And we are called to trust. To trust that God’s mercy in Christ is enough. To trust that when we listen, eat and come we will be nourished as he promises. It is a calling constantly in need of renewal. We need to be reminded daily of our poverty in spirit, to thirst for the riches of God’s mercy. We are all to drink daily of that mercy in order to overcome our sin and anger, and to bear mercy to others.
Isaiah ends this passage with a great picture of all nations coming to the one, to the people, the church, the nations that have listened, eaten, come and trusted. They are drawn because the illusion of wealth is replaced by the reality of peace and love. Because when we receive mercy and peace we become the bearers of mercy peace.
That is where we end, as those who carry mercy from God through Christ to all humanity in actions that reveal mercy. Sant’Egidio’s work in Mozambique and around the world is a sign of what is possible when Christ’s mercy flows through us. We are to be those who enable others to be merciful to those with whom they are in conflict. We are called to be Christ's voice to the hopeless, calling, "come, to the waters" in a world of drought and despair, giving away with lavish generosity what we have received in grace-filled mercy.