Encountering the Mercy of God

The importance of mercy is one of the most life-giving messages God shares with us. It’s there for us repeatedly in the Psalms, a poetry of mercy that reminds us that God is “plenty in mercy whenever we call on him” (Psalm 86:5) and also in the Gospels, where the Apostles’ interactions with Jesus open them to a God of tenderness and patience far beyond what they had ever dreamed possible. God’s mercy includes His infinite patience with us; He understands we are working to grow, working to be strong in living our faith. He doesn’t get tired of waiting for us to grow.

Mercy—the grace of God’s willingness to love us for our goodness, despite our shortcomings—is steadfast. It never goes away. This must be what makes mercy such a gift, because we’re given the opportunity to come back to God from any place of distance we might be, knowing we are loved.

Our challenge can be accepting God’s mercy and loving ourselves through our weaknesses as He does. Yet every experience we have of this deep form of renewal, this mercy, propels us to want more, to clear the way in our minds and hearts to come back and grow closer to God again and again. This is what Pope Francis describes as “the mercy of Jesus cleansing our souls.”

Our souls are cleansed with tenderness, an inspiration to be merciful to others as God has been merciful to us. It’s the “pay it forward” ideal; the more we exercise our mercy muscles, the stronger they become in supporting us to lead lives with kindness, peace, and ultimately forgiveness of ourselves and others. When mercy becomes a way of life—a practice that involves both accepting mercy from God and giving it to others—there’s bound to be less struggle and greater calm. Where there is calm, there is real power for good.

The mercy we receive encourages us to make ourselves vulnerable to God through reflection, with an ongoing effort toward growth. The mercy we give actively emphasizes a generosity of spirit that is slow to judge and eager in kindness.

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"Be merciful as your father is merciful."

(Luke 6:36)

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