The Infinite Mercy of Christ
April 16, 2023
“…Then he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
from John 20:19-31
The Lord is kind and merciful! For proof, we need look no further than Jesus’ death on the cross for love of us. God is both all-merciful and all-just. It is in this world, now, that we can take advantage of the Lord’s mercy. He is always ready to forgive us in the sacrament of Reconciliation. After we die, we will want to have availed ourselves of his mercy, for anything we have confessed is completely and utterly forgiven, washed in the Blood of Christ.
We see in this Sunday’s gospel (John 20:19-31) that Jesus shows mercy to Thomas, who refused to believe in the resurrection of the dead, and also toward the apostle Peter, who had betrayed him. Jesus showed mercy to the good thief who acknowledged his sins as he died and asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his kingdom. Jesus showed infinite mercy to his poor apostles, all of whom but John ran away, when Jesus was crucified! There is no sin that cannot be pardoned by God, but we do have to ask.
Jesus lays down one crucial requirement in all of this: even as we have received mercy, we are called to be merciful to others. Remember the beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful … they will be shown mercy!” (Matthew 5:7). So we are called to be people of mercy. How do we do that?
One way that many people lack mercy is in how they speak about or to others. I know of one of our now-deceased senior pastors, who handled this kind of situation very well: when he was conversing with others and the conversation turned to negative talk about someone else, no matter how justified, he simply went silent. The message was very quickly received that this kind of talk was not welcome. Try it sometime. We, of course, will not want the Lord to broadcast our sins at the end of time; therefore, we must strive to treat others the same way. Being kind in our speech is a habit that we can learn.
There are many other ways to show mercy, particularly in how we deal with the irritating, inconvenient or otherwise difficult people in our lives. It is in precisely such situations as these that we discover just how merciful we really are.