Will you show no mercy, or will you show and know mercy?
In order to show mercy, you have to know mercy. Once you know it, it’s too good to keep to yourself; you absolutely need to share it with others. But, what exactly is mercy? It’s tough to talk about if you’re not sure what it is. Much less to pass it on when you’re not sure how to identify it.
The co-founder of Catholic Christian Outreach, Andre Regnier, said at Rise Up Montreal 2015: “Mercy is kindness or help for someone in great need.” Therefore, Regnier pointed out that mercy has two key elements: it’s entirely personal, and it’s relatable to your situation and to your worries in a way that makes you feel loved and valued. An example of mercy can be when your mom lets you off the hook from doing chores so that you can work on homework that’s due tomorrow instead. In this gesture of kindness, your mom shows mercy to your situation and alleviates some of the stress you feel. I’m sure she would have preferred that you do the chores that she expects of you, but because she sees that you are stressed about completing your assignment, she knows that it would be better if you had more time to work on it. She does it out of kindness, and she helps out your current situation in a way that shows how much she loves you and is concerned for your well-being.
In the same way, God offers all of us mercy as well, but instead of excusing us from a chore, God’s mercy is directed towards our souls and our sin. He forgives us from our sins and removes them, which is a pretty big deal. God’s mercy is always available to us — all we need to do is acknowledge and ask for it in order to let Him work in our hearts. God’s mercy is always personal and relevant to our situations. He knows the deepest corners of our hearts, and if we let Him into those places with the intention of allowing Him to encounter the darkness hidden there, He will provide the kindness, healing, and help we need.
Even though His mercy is available whenever and wherever we want, sometimes we need a little help to recognize it acting in our lives. There are physical representations of His mercy in our world to help us encounter it in a real way. During this Year of Mercy, there is a Door of Mercy located in every diocese of the universal Church. In other words, there is a real door somewhere in each diocese designated as the Door. Anyone can pass through it in faith. This action represents that we are open to saying “Yes” to receiving God’s mercy into our hearts and showing mercy to others in turn.
Another way to experience God’s mercy in a tangible manner is through the sacrament of Reconciliation. By naming the times we’ve failed to show mercy to ourselves and to others, we allow God to show His mercy to us; in His love, He meets us in our most shameful moments and shows us the joy of reuniting ourselves to him. His forgiveness is relevant to our hearts, and once we’ve seen His mercy towards us, we can’t help but be filled with it and desire to show others this same mercy that we have come to know.