I believe mercy is what holds the world together. Where we see it, we also see life, fruitfulness, harmony and joy. Where we lack it, we see poverty, pain, conflict and division. Though at times it may seem like we’re left with nothing but a single thread, that thread of mercy holds us together nonetheless with supernatural strength and allows us to keep moving forward. When all hope fails, a single act of mercy is enough to restore it.
Mercy is built into who we are. It’s our vocation as beings made in the image of God. It’s our duty as servants of God. Above all it’s our privilege as beloved children of God. As women, specifically, mercy is the epitome of our call to physical and spiritual motherhood – as we practise patience, generosity, forgiveness and unceasing devotion in the way we nurture those around us.
‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’ Luke 6:36
Just as we love because God first loved us, we’re called to be merciful because of the great mercy that has been shown to us. To love is to sacrifice. To sacrifice is to give up our own desires. To give up our own desires is to put others first. To put others first requires us to forgive endlessly. In choosing to forgive, we show mercy. When we show mercy, we spread joy, life and love – completing the circle of love and mercy just as Jesus did when He died to bring us salvation! We too need to die to self. Though our hearts are so easily damaged by the words and actions of others, when we allow ourselves to bleed out mercy rather than resentment we join our own suffering with Christ's.
Around a month ago here in the UK we celebrated the Flame Congress – a meeting of around 8000 young Catholics who travelled from far and wide to gather in the name of Jesus. There, Cardinal Luis Tagle from the Philippines addressed the congress with one of the most heart-felt pleas I’ve ever heard:
“Where there is mercy there is joy. What brings joy, true joy, profound joy, the joy that the world cannot give? It is the mercy of God that keeps us whole, that gives us hope. Be living signs of the joy of the Gospel of mercy. Recall in your lives how God has been merciful to you. Proclaim God’s mercy and the joy that has come to you, because God has been merciful to you.”
Not one of us is worthy of God’s mercy, yet He gives it freely. In the light of our own unworthiness, how can we not reflect that mercy to others? When we show the mercy of God, we allow His strength to work through our weakness and to bind us together in love.
Cardinal Tagle ended his address by asking each of us to text as many friends as possible one simple sentence: “Blessed are the merciful.” I invite you to keep that phrase in mind as you go about your day. We’re called to be living signs of the mercy we’ve received. How can you do that today?