Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. Matthew 5:7
I write this in the wake of the terrible shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Such a devastating attack in what should always be a safe and sacred space for worshippers feels like an assault on our religious freedom. This violence comes not long after the ‘terrorist’ attack in New York City, with President Donald Trump calling for the death penalty for the perpetrator. It seems, perhaps, no mercy will be shown to him.
Yet the Lord is clear in the fifth Beatitude: mercy is important to God, and an integral part of living a Christian life. Showing mercy – whether towards ourselves or to others – can prove a struggle at the best of times, though. It often involves something we as humans are bad at doing: forgiving. How can we go about forgiving those who hurt us personally with their words or actions? Or those who attack our liberty and our way of life? Those who start wars, or those who hurt innocent children? Those who rape or murder?
Sometimes it can seem beyond our human capacity to sincerely forgive. Yet Jesus wholeheartedly forgave those who crucified Him, and He was fully human and just like us…
Being merciful or practising mercy takes many forms. Giving to charity or volunteering can be acts of mercy – but not everyone has the money or time to do that. But, as God told St Faustina, everyone can practice spiritual mercy.
We can do this by aiming to forgive and be merciful to others, by not becoming irritated by them (whether we show this or not) and by letting things go. It doesn’t even need to be big acts of spiritual mercy. Tired of the Starbucks barista misspelling your name all the time? Let it go and give them a smile.
Lord God, King of Mercy, help me to grow in wisdom and patience, so that I may be a beacon of your mercy in this world. Help me to follow your Son’s example, by practising mercy at every opportunity, with a smiling face and sincere heart. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Written by Shanika Ranasinghe, an SCM member.