“Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to Him.” (Psalm 106: 21). Jesus during His mortal life practised many virtues; but none is more conspicuous, none appeals more strongly to us, than His infinite mercy, His tender forgiveness of all injuries. A vile sinner is brought before Him, her very mien proclaims her crime. “Have none condemned thee? Neither shall I. Go, sin no more.” Magdalen, the bye-word of the city, Magdalen whose name was sin and shame, seeks His forgiveness and finds His mercy. Peter, the favoured one, denies his Master and turns his back on Him who loved him so; and Peter’s heart is won, even in his sin, by one loving look of mercy and compassion from the Saviour whose mercy is without end.
COMMENT: The Extraordinary Year of Mercy starts today. Of course, every day is a day of mercy – the mercy of God is available to us at any moment that we turn to Him, but it is good to be reminded of these truths of our faith from time to time.
But the Year of Mercy is not only concerned with receiving God’s mercy but also with our practice of mercy. If we wish to have mercy shown to us we must show mercy to others. Showing mercy to others is not an abstract, feel-good thing – it is hard and concrete and sometimes unpleasant. Consider the Church’s traditional listing of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy:
Corporal works of mercy:
- To feed the hungry.
- To give drink to the thirsty.
- To clothe the naked.
- To shelter the homeless
- To visit the sick.
- To visit the imprisoned
- To bury the dead.
Spiritual works of mercy:
- To instruct the ignorant.
- To counsel the doubtful.
- To admonish sinners.
- To bear wrongs patiently.
- To forgive offences willingly.
- To comfort the afflicted.
- To pray for the living and the dead
Sure, we want mercy for ourselves. But are we willing to practice it? Are we willing to shelter the homeless and bury the dead? Perhaps we feel that’s too much and we can’t physically do that. Ok, well then are we willing to instruct the ignorant and admonish sinners? Perhaps we feel that would be impolite in modern society…
If we want to receive mercy we must be willing to practice it. Some works of mercy will come more naturally to us than others will. But are we open to practicing them all, in a compassionate and just manner, when the opportunity presents itself? We all probably have much to reflect and work on over the next year.