LOVE AND MERCY
Love and mercy are realities that lie in our hands to give or retain. The truth of this is found in the commands that Jesus gives us: “love one another as I have loved you”, “Love your enemies: do good to those who hate, bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you and tell lies about you.” If love was just something that we fell into or which blew us away then what sense does it make for Our Lord to give it to us as a commandment. If someone says to us: do this or do that, then they must believe that we have the capability to obey. If Our Lord commands us to love, then we must be able to do it. Or to put it another way, love is something we can control.
What are we doing when we love? We treat the other with a care, tenderness, dignity that we choose to show them. We act from within ourselves. We choose to do this for no other reason other than we choose to do it. We could choose not to show kindness, understanding, patience but we do. We are not being forced to act in this way. We use our freedom. We do not act in these ways because we want others to do it to us. This is not a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” way of operating. We do it because we choose to do it.
Yes, Our Lord wants us to love because when we do our humanity, our likeness to God flowers. We are saved from the destructive powers we set loose if we choose not to love. The rightness of this way of acting registers in our innermost self. We feel good. The reason we feel good is that we are acting in harmony with our human nature. Other ways of acting put us at odds with our nature, what we were made to be.
As with love, so too with mercy. Our Lord’s sermon on the mount rang out clearly that those who showed mercy would be blessed, happy, at peace with themselves and in union with God. The suffering Jesus endured which we lived through with him on Good Friday was brought about by merciless behaviour. Those who used him as an object for mockery, cruel fun put aside any thought that this was a fellow human being. The authorities threw him not to the wolves but to human beings who wanted him dead and for those who followed him to think twice about remaining loyal to him and his way of life. Their plans failed because even dying on the cross he treated those nearby with mercy and love. He did not rail against his fate but prayed for them and forgave them.
We have, along with the first disciples, breathed in his Spirit and breathe it out in our daily lives bringing something unearned into the lives of ourselves and others simply because what we have received freely, we freely choose to share with others.
St John Paul II designated the second Sunday of Easter as universal feast for divine mercy. He was influenced by the private revelations of a Polish religious sister whom he canonised, Faustina. Those revelations manifest what is central to our faith whose central feast is Easter and the resurrection of the Lord from death to the fullness of living. This act is not earned. This is divine mercy.
Our prayer today is that the hearts and minds of those who act without mercy will respond to the grace God offers them. That acts of violence whether they are in battle zones around the world or in our homes will be seen as disfigurement of our shared humanity and be replaced by acts of kindness, tenderness, love and mercy.
Fr Adrian Farrelly
|Apr 16, 2015||2nd Sunday of Easter 12.04.2015||Listen||Download|