Friday, April 29, 2016

Living the Gift of Mercy

When we turn on the news or peruse the internet (or even look into the mirror), we recognize the need for Divine Mercy. We live in turbulent and confusing times. Sin and darkness threaten to obscure the truth that we know in the depths of our hearts, that we are made in the image and likeness of the God who is love, and that the goal of life is no less than heaven, and our purpose here is to glorify God by living Christian love.
Copyright 2016 by R. L. Drake

It's dangerously easy to get lost, to wander from the path, and to forget who we are and what our purpose in life is. In our wanderings, we may aimlessly roam in and out of self-inflicted pain, seeking the happiness that can only be found in communion with God and one another. We tend to aim off the mark, in other words, to sin.

We see this tragic reality in our own lives (if we're honest with ourselves), in the lives of those we love, and in the larger global community, as well. From the brokenness in our families to the conflicts between nations, we see that sin shatters communion. Sin dis-integrates what is meant to be integrated. It is interesting to note that a root of the Greek word used for "devil" in the New Testament means "to scatter, to throw across."

The assurance of God's mercy is an invitation back to the wholeness and integrity that bring peace of soul. God calls us to communion, and wills to put us back together when we, having disintegrated ourselves through sin, finally return to Him for healing through the sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance.

It has been said that mercy is the form God’s love takes when it meets our human misery. Mercy is where my sorrow and remorse for sins meet God's boundless love and compassion. Mercy granted and received restores us to our dignity as children of God and brothers and sisters of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Mercy reintegrates us and brings us back to our former spiritual health. In the more literal translations of the New Testament, the prodigal son, having squandered his inheritance in selfish pursuits, acknowledged his true poverty and "came to himself," rather than the less literal, "came to his senses." In other words, the lost son came back to who he really was, who he was meant to be. It was then that he began the journey back home, where his father eagerly waited, prepared to extend limitless mercy to his wayward child.

The degree to which I am open to receive God’s mercy is proportional to the degree to which I am willing to extend mercy. It seems that the door to mercy in our hearts serves both as an entry way for God’s mercy to us, and as an exit way for our own to be extended to others.

Living Mercy

In order to live the gift of mercy, perhaps we might begin by reflecting on a time recently when someone extended a healthy measure of mercy to ourselves, the healing it brought, and the opportunity for reconciliation and new life.
Copyright 2016 by R. L. Drake

We might ask, “Is there someone in my life to whom I need to extend mercy? Is there someone from whom I have withheld my mercy out of resentment or bitterness?”

And think of the countless times that God has extended his boundless mercy to us. Thank Him for those occasions of mercy. Perhaps pray Psalm 32, slowly and with the intention to live it.

For further reading on how we can practice the gift of mercy this holy year, there’s a terrific article on the subject at Catholic Exchange: Year of Mercy: Time to Heal Wounds.