Meditation: Luke 6:27-38
Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
One of the reasons Jesus’ teaching on mercy is so challenging is that we face many opportunities to practice it each day. Like many other challenges, our best defense is a good offense. We are better able to rise to these challenges if we prepare ourselves for them in advance. So what can we do? What attitudes come before mercy?
First there’s love. When Jesus commands us to be merciful, he is essentially telling us to follow the way of love. Love doesn’t seek retribution or “brood over injury”
(1 Corinthians 13:5). That’s why Jesus tells his followers to “bless those who curse you” and “pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28). So out of love, when a family member says something hurtful, try to hold your tongue instead of lashing out. When someone cuts you off while you’re driving, pray for that person instead of reacting with anger.
There’s also understanding. Pope Francis has said that we are all “a complex mixture of light and shadows” (The Joy of Love, 113). So before you take offense or respond in a negative way, ask yourself, “What might be causing this person to act in this way?” If you step back and take the time to understand a person and the complicated factors that might lead people to do what they do, you may find it easier to be compassionate and thus merciful.
Third, there’s self-awareness. You too are a mixture of “light and shadows.” Yet it’s so very easy to see the plank in a brother’s or sister’s eye but fail to see the beam in your own (Matthew 7:3). When you regularly examine your heart, you are constantly reminded of your own weaknesses. As you become more alert to your own need for God’s compassion and forbearance, it becomes easier to forgive other people and show them mercy.
Because we are a work in progress, we will probably always struggle with the call to be merciful. But how blessed we are that God is merciful to us! As we do our part to prepare our hearts, he will pour out his grace upon us day by day. May we become his face of mercy to all we encounter each day!
“Jesus, grant me the grace this day to show mercy, just as your Father has shown me mercy.”
The Word Among Us
Word Among Us is an excellent Catholic publication that I read everyday. This one struck me today.