Tuesday, March 05, 2013

God is Mercy

I remember distinctly a very dear friend of mine confiding in me that he could not bring himself to forgive his boss for the way he had treated him.  My friend was offended, was prepared to quit his job, and could in no way bring himself to forgive his employer.

I remember it distinctly because the look of unbelief in my eyes must have shocked him and pierced him to the core.  I simply said to my friend, "of all the people in the world, how can YOU not be ready to forgive another?"  My friend was cut to the quick and looked away.

You see, my friend spent most of his teenage years in prison for murder.  Once he was released he lived a less than holy life focused on himself alone.  Only recently did he experience the healing power of God.  He not only experienced forgiveness from God for his taking of a life, he was able to receive forgiveness and closure from the family.  In fact, God had worked so powerfully in his life that he dedicated his life to helping minister to those in prison and those imprisoned by addiction.

I didn't speak to my friend in a condemning way nor judge him but rather I asked the question simply, as if I were pleading with him to think of what he was saying.  Both of us instantly thought of today's Gospel.

God is Mercy.  From the very beginning, moments after the fall of our first parents, God has been extending His hand to us in mercy.  His mercy didn't stop at the Crucifixion and it continues to this very moment.  God, in His very being, is Mercy.  He cannot help Himself, that is who He is and it is what he wants for us.

We, on the other hand, need practice.  For us, mercy is a habit.  It is something we must work on.  However, if we keep today's Gospel in mind, it will certainly help us to be more merciful.  God has forgiven a debt we could never repay.  What then is there in our life that we can not forgive?  The answer should be - nothing.  If God can forgive our sins, and often ones we tend to repeat far more than 77 times, how can we even consider withholding mercy from others?  As St. John Chrysologus says in reference to mercy, "You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others."

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