Be Ye Merciful
Presence of God – O Lord, may the consideration of Your infinite mercy dilate my heart, that I may learn how to treat others mercifully.
Jesus revealed to us the mystery of His heavenly Father’s merciful love not only for our own consolation and personal benefit, not only to give us absolute confidence in God, but also to teach us to be merciful to our neighbor. “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Good attracts good, goodness engenders goodness, kindness inspires kindness; therefore, the more a soul penetrates the mystery of infinite mercy, the more it will be incited to emulate it. When we feel irritated with someone and little disposed to indulgence and pardon, we ought to plunge with all our strength into the consideration of the infinite mercy of God, in order to stifle all harshness, resentment, and anger in ourselves. If we had but the slightest experience of our own wretchedness, it would not be difficult for us to realize that there is no moment of our lives in which we do not need the mercy of God. Our merciful Father is so forbearing that He never casts us off despite all our falls, never reproaches us about the many times He has forgiven us, never refuses us His paternal embrace of love and peace. Nothing softens a soul more, making it full of good will toward others, than this consideration. Oh! if others could see in our attitude toward them a reflection of God’s infinite mercy!
Peter had not yet completely understood the deep mystery of merciful love when he asked Jesus if it were enough to pardon his neighbor seven times. Jesus’ reply must have sounded like an exaggeration to him: “I say not to thee, till seven times, but till seventy times seven times” (Matthew 18:22). Later, Peter’s heart was completely changed when he experienced the goodness of Jesus, who, without a single word of reproach, forgave him his threefold denial so generously. This man, who was so impetuous, so quickly moved to anger, and so ready to threaten, was later to give to the primitive Church this gentle exhortation to goodness and pardon: “Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one on another, being lovers of the brotherhood, merciful … not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this are you called” (1 Peter 3:8, 9). How can we fail to hear in these words an echo of the words of Jesus: “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you” (Matthew 5:44)?
“O Jesus, how much You esteem this mutual love of ours for one another! You could have taught us to say, ‘Forgive us, Lord, because we are doing a great deal of penance, we pray often, we fast, or because we have left all things for Your sake and we love You greatly,’ or ‘Forgive us because we would lose our life for Your sake’ or other words of the same kind; but You said only, ‘Forgive us, as we forgive!’
“This is a truth which we should consider carefully. You, O Lord, have willed to bind a grace so great—in such a serious and important matter as pardoning our sins which have merited eternal fire—to such a simple condition as our forgiveness of others. But what about one as poor as I, who have had so few occasions for forgiving others and so many for being forgiven? O Lord, take my desire to do so, for I believe I would forgive any wrong if You would forgive me. But at this moment I see that I am so guilty in Your sight that I feel that those who injure me are treating me too well.
“As I have so few even of these trifling things to offer You, O Lord, Your pardoning of me must be a free gift: here is abundant scope for Your mercy!
“But are there, perhaps many others who are like myself and have not yet understood this truth? If there are any such, I beg them in Your Name, O Lord, to remember this truth often and to pay no heed to little things about which they think they are being slighted. Sometimes we get to the point of thinking that we have done something wonderful because we have forgiven a person for some trifling thing. Then we ask You, O Lord, to forgive us as people who have done something important, just because we have forgiven someone. Ah, Lord! grant us to understand how little we understand ourselves and how empty our hands are! Deign to pardon us, but only by Your mercy!” (Teresa of Jesus Way of Perfection 36).
Note from Dan: This post on “Be Ye Merciful” is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art for this post “Be Ye Merciful”: Mirror of Teresa of Avila, Peter Paul Rubens, 1615, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.