Monday of the Second Week of Lent
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Last year Pope Francis led the church through a transformative Year of Mercy. So it is quite possible that you may be sick of hearing about God’s mercy. Or rather you are tired of hearing gross simplifications of God’s Mercy, those who claim that Mercy is to let everyone do what they want. The truth is that God’s Mercy is much greater and more nuanced. It is too great to even fit in one Lenten Reflection, so this will be limited to the Spiritual Works of Mercy, those that Jesus really seems to be talking about today in his challenge, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
Common parlance has equivocated “No problem” with “I forgive you.” But God’s Mercy cannot look at our faults and say “No problem.” If it were no problem, Jesus would not have saved us. Rather God’s Mercy looks at our sins and says “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ death on the cross is an act of forgiveness taking the weight of our sins and bearing them for us. To forgive sins is harder than to ignore them. If sins are like stains in a carpet, saying “It’s nothing” is like covering them up with a throw rug, but saying “I forgive you” is getting down on hands and knees and washing out the stain. We must, also, scrub out the mark, with love for the spiller. For the Father continues to love us, despite us ruining his lovely garden. This is Jesus’s challenge of forgiveness.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy provide us with the tools for completely forgiving others. These include giving instruction to the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, and admonishing sinners. We know this is part of forgiveness, because it was part of Jesus’ mission, to bring God’s Mercy to the world, he spent three years instructing us, and three days saving us. If we are to mold our lives to Jesus’, we must also spend more time showing others a better way than just merely saying “I forgive you.” This does not mean we become insufferable know-it-alls or worse holier-than-thou-s, it means that when we see our brother or sister has fallen we gently help them back to their feet. When we fall, we require God’s and our neighbor’s Mercy to rise again, only with both will we be able to truly return to God’s business. Today, Jesus tells us that we shall receive as we have given. Thus if we give Mercy, Mercy will be given us.
Let us ask God to have mercy on us and the whole world, thus we may be vessels of his mercy and overflow out onto the earth.
School of Law Student