God created us in His mercy and love. He formed us in love and out of love, because God is love and in love he abides (1Jn 4:16). Bible throughout is a story of God’s love for mankind, the betrayal of man and God’s mercy in pardoning the myriad offences of His children. It begins with love and it ends with mercy.
Throughout the Old Testament we see the good God lamenting over the wayward ways of His children. He is not a God who takes pleasure in destruction or punishment. Chastise He may, but He is never happy with eternal condemnation or destruction of a single soul. He wants every one of us to be saved. (Ez 18:32)
The unfathomable mercy of God is evident in the way He decides to give up His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for the sins of many. One may even die for a good person, but giving up one’s life for sinners and evil-doers is unthinkable (Rom 5:7-8). But such is the love and mercy of God for His children that He does not hesitate ransoming out this sinless, innocent, spotless Lamb of God in exchange for the life and salvation of sinners.
Blameless as He was and sinful as we are, He still readily carries the cross up the Mount Calvary and dies on it for our sake. Indeed, it was our burden that He carried on His back, and our sins that He bore in His body (Is 53:4-5, 1Pt 2:24).
So what is the mercy of God?
It is the eyes that wept for Lazarus. It is the heart that moved with compassion for his people. It is the body that was beaten up and broken down for our sake. It is the blood that emptied itself on the cross for us. It is the hands that took the bread of life and the cup of salvation. It is the lips that said “take and eat; take and drink”. It is the voice that cried out “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
O how did those hands not shake! O how did those lips not tremble! O how did that voice not quiver!
It is the love that was born in a manger. It is the bread that came down from Heaven. It is the Word that became flesh. It is the healing that He gave. It is the message that He proclaimed. It is the forgiveness that wiped out our sins. It is the promise that said “I will not leave you orphaned.” It is the consolation that said “Behold, your Mother”. It is the yearning that said “I thirst.”
O how He loved! O how He gave! O how He yearned!
God’s mercy is God’s love itself. Love cannot be separated from mercy. Love is no different from mercy. They are one and the same. For there can be no love without mercy and there can be no mercy without love. Therefore, when God formed us in His love, He also formed us in His mercy. When God sent down His only begotten Son out of His love for us, He sent down His only begotten Son out of His mercy for us.
The covenant of love was also the covenant of mercy. His plan for eternal salvation and restoration of mankind was perfected in His love and also in His mercy. The cross that He bore, not love only smelled of His love but also of His mercy.
God fulfills His work and promise of love and mercy through the Sacraments in the Church. The Lord’s love and mercy are fully manifested in the sacraments especially in the sacraments of Confession and Communion.
In the Confessional, the Lord’s forgiveness is poured out and His grace overflows. The person of the priest is just a screen. It is Jesus Himself who sits in the Confessional waiting for us to approach His mercy. His mercy yearns to be spent on souls of the sinners. The greatest of sinners has the greatest right to His mercy.
In the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the holy God of the entire universe takes the form of a tiny piece of bread and comes down into our souls, into our hearts and into our bodies. What amazing grace, what amazing love, what amazing mercy it is that the master of all creation, the Lord of all, should humble Himself to such point just to be amidst us for all eternity!
What greater proof of God’s love and mercy can be have here among the mortals, than these Sacraments where God shows Himself as the incarnation of love and mercy itself?
He is the God that came down to earth for the sake of sinners and never so much as flinched when the worst of society’s sinners publicly touched Him and served Him. He is the physician that came looking for the sick, the good shepherd that goes out looking for the lost sheep and the kind father who awaits the return of his lost son. He proudly proclaims that the greatest of sinners would love Him more, for the one with a greater debt would love Him more (Mk 2:17, Lk 7:36-38, Lk 15:3-7, Lk 15:11-24, Lk 7:41-47)
He waits for us each day, longing for us repent and return to Him, and while we are still on our way back home, he would come running down to us, filled with compassion, and hug and kiss us.
It is only in the law book of this merciful God that the wayward is fondled and carried on the shoulders, and the prodigal son is adorned with the finest robe, a ring and sandals. He is the God who says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13).
Yes, it is mercy that our Lord desires. The Lord desires that His mercy be poured out on all. The work of God’s mercy can be fulfilled only when it is spread out to all through our deeds and through our prayers. The good Lord has been kind to us and therefore it is our Christian duty to extend the mercy that we have received to those around us.
Just as our Lord is a merciful Lord, He expects us to show mercy to others (Mt 18:33). The cycle of mercy can be completed when we give out in full measure what we have received. Helping the poor, visiting the sick, praying for the souls in purgatory, forgiving those who hurt us, praying for sinners, etc. are some ways of showing mercy.
Here are The Acts of Mercy as taught by the Catholic Church.
Let us pay keen attention to each one of them and try to practice at least some of them, if not all. Let us be merciful in our thoughts, words and deeds. May our eyes reflect the love and mercy of God. May our hearts be filled with the Lord’s compassion.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Mt 5:7)
Yes, so come let us receive the mercy of God generously poured out on all and let us practice the mercy of God with just as much generosity. We have been given freely, let us also give freely (Mt 10:8).