A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

A Little Mercy

Posted on: April 4, 2013

Though the power of Omnipotence had been his to wield at that moment, he had too much of its diviner property of Mercy in his breast, to have turned one feather’s weight of it against her.

– Charles Dickens, The Cricket on the Hearth

When children think of mercy, they might think of the game where one person tries to bend another’s wrists back until he or she cries, “Mercy!”

As adults, we know mercy is a gift that we don’t deserve but that God gives us out of love. The Catechism tells us in s. 270 that “God reveals his fatherly omnipotence…by his infinite mercy, for he displays his power at its height by freely forgiving sins.”

With the events of Holy Week still fresh in our minds, God’s love for and mercy toward us should be as plain as day. But as the Redemptorist priest speaking at my parish’s mission said, people may go to confession and receive absolution from a priest and yet find it hard to believe God could actually forgive them.

Since this will be the first Sunday after Easter, Catholics will mark Divine Mercy Sunday. If you are new to the Catholic Church, you can learn more by reading Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and visiting The Divine Mercy Message from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception website.

As the site tells us, the message “is that God loves us—all of us. And, he wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others.”

We need to grasp that truth: our sins may be great, but God’s mercy is greater. We can place our trust in God, who has told us (see Exodus 34:6) and shown us that he is merciful. And we in turn can show that mercy to others.

Citing Matthew 25:31-46, the Catechism describes works of mercy in s. 2447:

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.

Whether we’ve thought of it that way or not, we extend mercy to others when we listen to someone who’s grieving, visit a friend in the hospital after surgery, or donate to a food bank or to a charity’s clothing bin. But the fact that people commit acts of road rage, hold grudges, are estranged from their families, and so on, tells us we can do so much more—especially in terms of “forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently.”

And we can start at home, within our own families. We can leave old arguments in the past and be more patient. At work, we can be more tolerant of and kinder to our coworkers and employers. And in the community, we can make allowances for those we interact with and reach out to those in need, remembering that everyone has a story.

I pray that we would all grow in our knowledge of God’s mercy and in our ability—and willingness—to share that mercy with those around us.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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