Thoughts on Mercy
by John Murphy
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are invited to learn what God's Mercy is and receive it into our lives. I had just read The Great Reformer by Austen Ivereigh about Pope Francis and learned of his devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots. I began to think about God's Mercy through Jesus Christ. How do we experience this Mercy?
Mercy has always been associated with forgiveness of sins. It struck me that we have been the victims of sins in our lives. From people saying hurtful things to actually hurting us, we have been hurt physically, emotionally and spiritually. Even when someone says that they are sorry and asks forgiveness, the effects of that sin often remain with us. Many times the person says nothing and does not admit to doing anything wrong. We carry these experiences around, and these events are now in the past. We can do nothing about the past, we cannot go back and undo the event so that it does not make us suffer now.
The image of Mary, Untier of Knots, tells us that Mary receives the tangled mess that we have in our lives when we pass it to her for her intercession. She prays over and knows what needs to be healed first. From this I thought of taking the hurts of the past and passing them to Jesus Christ. This is the first experience of Mercy.
As you think of incidents in your past for which you still feel the hurt, raise them to Jesus crucified on the cross and to the Body of Christ in the Tabernacle. Jesus is taking your hurt to join it with His suffering. He is taking the effect of the sin you have suffered in your past to Himself. You are taken through His suffering on the cross to His Resurrection to healing and peace. God is Eternal, the past is before Him, only He can do anything about your past, and His Mercy is to free you from sin and its effects. In the Cross Jesus frees us from all sin because He prayed, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." This rings out in eternity and applies in all times. After His Resurrection, He said, "Peace be with you." And "The peace I give is not as the peace the world gives." That Peace breaks the effect of the sin we have suffered. It heals us from the reaction to hurts we have suffered. It also empowers us to join with Jesus and forgive the sin of the other. This is our first experience of Mercy.
From this first experience, we can enter the second experience of Mercy. We can now consider how we have hurt others by our sins. We know that we cannot go back and undo the hurt we have caused. We cannot change the past and put everything back the way it was before we sinned. Only Jesus can do that. This time we raise the person or persons that we hurt by our sin to the Cross and Body of Christ and ask Jesus for forgiveness and that He remove the effects of our sin from their lives. Once we have asked for forgiveness, we need to continue to lift them to the Lord so that they will receive the Mercy they need. It may take some time before they are open to receiving His Mercy. If they are members of your community or family, then you may witness the healing from the hurt your sins have caused.
Once we have experience Christ Mercy in our lives, we will want to tell others and be able to share our experience. Joy and peace will fill us and be seen by others.
Prayer of Pope Francis for the
YEAR OF MERCY
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: "If you knew the gift of God!"
You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.