Pope Francis on April 11, 2015, declared this year a “Year of Mercy.” He said, “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.”
God is all about mercy. From the very beginning, after he punished Adam and Eve, He poured out His mercy onto the world, promising redemption through sacrifice. Mercy is God sacrificing His only Son as redemption for our sinfulness. Mercy is replacing someone else in our place, so we will not be punished as Jesus was punished. Mercy is total and complete forgiveness through Reconciliation. This is God’s mercy for us.
We too, to be a part of the Church, must also show God’s mercy to the world. Pope Francis also reminds us that “the capacity for mercy begins with learning to listen to God’s Word, which requires rediscovering the value of silence in order to contemplate God’s mercy and adopt it as our lifestyle.” We must first be silent, read the Bible and contemplate His Word in order to understand real mercy. When we understand God’s mercy, we can then apply it to our lives as Jesus lived in mercy. That does not mean that we have to allow others to walk all over us, Jesus did not do that. It does mean that we are to love and forgive others, and point out sinfulness when we see it. Mercy is also showing others where they are sinning! We love them so much, that we do not want the wrath of God to come upon them, so as ambassadors of the Church, we must move others to repent. The only way we can know that others are sinning is to know what sin is. The only way to know what sin is, is to study the Bible.
We must also participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation. “Let us place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the center once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands.” In other words, in order to show mercy, we must feel what mercy is through God.
Mercy is also loving guidance, loving the sinner (not the sin), and understanding that we are all given the free will to choose or not to choose to love God. If someone rejects our attempts to point our their sin, then we should pray for them and then “shake the dust from our shoes”. It is merciful to reject someone because of their sin, in order for them to realize they will also lose us if they continue to behave in a way that is contrary to our beliefs. God can soften anyone’s heart, but they must also participate in turning towards Him.
Remember, mercy is Jesus hanging upon the Cross. If you ever doubt mercy, just look up to the Cross and witness God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy upon you and your life, and show that same love, forgiveness and mercy to all others.
Catholic Upgrade: Pray, read the Bible, and reflect what mercy means to you and show that mercy to others.