Frassati Reflection: The Balm of Mercy

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”
—Luke 6:36–38

Thus, as an example, Christ teaches us that to hate our neighbor is contrary to the love of God. This seems obvious enough in the abstract; but what about a man whose life has been ruined by the unjust actions of his neighbor? His heart is filled with righteous anger. He makes plans for revenge. So just does his cause appear to be that he is ready to contemplate the most violent acts. At this moment it does not seem obvious at all to him that the actions he is contemplating are sins. This is because he is not acting out of the bond of love to Christ, but out of his own wounds. It is then that he should remember that the hate in his heart is sinful—that it is the most basic law of love that anyone whose soul is filled with hate cannot be Christ’s friend. If he nurses these emotions instead of struggling against them, then he can only come back to Christ’s presence through the gate of repentance. —Ronda Chervin

misericordia23How often do we act out of our own wounds, instead of out of the bond of love to Christ? When we have been wounded, we become guarded and defensive; the sting of our hurt causes us to hold grudges. But those grudges will ultimately only perpetuate sin and hatred. Jesus calls us instead to offer our righteous anger up to Him, showing mercy to our transgressors and ending the cycle of hatred. Righteous anger can lead us to righteous action when we channel it well, but we shouldn’t nurse our anger and let it fester into sin. We may suffer injustice in this world, but there is a peace in knowing that in Heaven we will be rewarded beyond what we deserve. Ultimately, our wounds will only be healed by mercy. We can let go of our anger and bear any suffering with the help of Christ.

Sometimes it is not really a sense of injustice that stirs up our anger but a sense of insecurity. Dwelling in insecurity is a form of pride, because it means we are placing our trust in ourselves and not in God. If our trust is in God, we will be fully secure. If, instead, we are insecure about our abilities and gifts, we are doubting the wisdom of the God who gave us these particular gifts and not other ones. When we worry about how we compare with other people, we are forgetting that God created us to be fully ourselves, utterly incomparable. We don’t have to fear being perceived as weak, or incompetent, or weird, because our well-being does not rely on our own perfection but on God’s. True humility means recognizing that we are no more and no less than children of God and confidently resting in that knowledge.

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