April 23, 2017
“Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned, because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.”
Jesus Christ is both perfect mercy and perfect justice, and yet there is no contradiction here. When we come to the Lord seeking forgiveness, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he will always forgive us. Even in the last moments of our lives, he is willing to forgive us, if we are only willing to admit we need it! Each of us is now living in the time of God’s mercy – it is called life. After death, if we have not taken advantage of God’s mercy, we will have to face his justice and the true consequences of our sins, which Jesus desires to save us from by our accepting his death on the cross for us.
Am I a person of mercy? The world is often not a very merciful place but we, as Christians, are called to be different! Who hasn’t experienced being judged harshly by someone because they didn’t have all the facts? If I tend to be this way, or tend to treat people differently because of their skin color or because their beliefs differ from mine, I am in danger of becoming a merciless person and that is not a good thing to be.
How I treat someone who has inconvenienced me or gotten in my way somehow is the real test of my growth in the spiritual gift of mercy. Is there someone in my life who I don’t like or who has wronged me? Someone who continues to hurt me?
Here are three ways to be a person of mercy and forgiveness toward these difficult people: First, I must pray for this person. Second, I must be kind to this person if I run into them. Third (and most importantly) I must not talk negatively about them behind their back. God isn’t calling us to be friends with the people who have wronged us, but to forgive by these merciful actions. We must especially watch our words, because this is truly where many of us are often the least merciful. To be more merciful, try a good dose of silence for a change!
Impatience with others is another way many of us can show mercilessness. How we treat others who are difficult, inconvenient, enemies, demanding, irritating, or are members of groups we don’t like will tell us quite clearly whether we are becoming a merciless—or a merciful person.