:Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy. ” (Matthew 5:7)
This is the year that we have had a year for the celebration of mercy, as it was lead from Pope Francis.
We are coming to the close of the Year of Mercy, and so what have we learned ? What have we put into practice ? How has this year caused us to reflect on how we practice mercy, and what have we done to use this practice to enhance our spiritual lives or the lives of our brothers and sisters ?
In the book of James, we find James giving some instructions about how we are to treat each other.
In this chapter, we find James giving us specifically the example of how it is that we treat the poor. how it is that if we spend time looking at the rich who are brought into the church, and invited to sit in places of prominence, but the poor we tell them to stand in the back, or in some other out of the way place. We are given examples of how we offend the dignity of the human person, and the other children of God by our actions, even unto the very house of God.
“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. the corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God ” ( CCC # 2447 )
The church teaches us these characteristics of what mercy is, Jesus throughout the scripture shows us examples of how this mercy is to be carried out. How have we internalized these works ?
In our daily lives, do we try to teach (Instruct) others in areas where we are knowledgeable ? Do we console those who are feeling down, or separated or in pain ? Are we forgiving of others ? Can we manage to have patience, and bear with others who wrong us unjustly ?
In many churches throughout the world, parishes have created a “Door of Mercy” through which everyone passes through, and there was a big “to do” made about the door and a liturgical blessing and celebration etc. What difference has it made for us ? Do we pass by the door, making a mental note of the fact that, “this is the door of mercy” and then thoughts drift off to the next thing. Maybe you pass by the door and it no longer makes you take pause to mark its existence at all because its been there all year… It is no longer “new” to us so we just accept that its there. Possibly, this is what has happened to our practice of mercy as well.
“In its various forms – material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death – human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin” ( CCC # 2448 )
In the world today we have these effects. These effects which we carry out in our daily lives, as a matter of course. These effects, these acts of both commission and omission, where we see the poverty, we see the injustice, we see the oppression of our brothers and sisters, and possibly, just like that Door of Mercy, that we pass by, we have seen it, we know its there, but we have become so accustomed to it that we no longer take note of it. .
The Church tells us that these human conditions have their origin in original sin, but we has human beings have perpetuated this condition as a matter of free will. This is why we are given then the Physical and Corporal Works of Mercy, in order to counter the effects of these evils in the world.
Saint James reminds us :
“So speak and so act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom.
For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”
In our practice of mercy, it is most important to remember that we too are poor, and in great need of the Fathers mercy, as we have all sinned, and therefore, we need forgiveness, and mercy of the Father, and from our brothers and sisters. Knowing this to be true, we should be foremost in these acts, to soften our hearts, to love, as we have been loved.
May God give you the gift of His peace……. and mercy