In the Gospel we just heard, Jesus tells us, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
OK. So how are you going to do that? How are you practically going to be merciful? Most of us do not pass judgement on convicted criminals, so we cannot be merciful in that rather strict sense.
Rather, for the great majority of us in our daily life, being merciful as our Father in Heaven is merciful, means first of all being patient. We are all too quick to pass judgement on others. For us, practically, mercy means being more patient with our spouse, our children, our selves. It means being less quick to judge harshly the other drivers we encounter, or the person ahead of us in a checkout line who takes FOREVER to get their money out to pay, or that person at work that bothers us.
You see, God is not quick to judge. God has lots of time to make judgements. So, God is patient. And that is good for us! ¿Can we be more patient with those we live with, with those we work and study with, and with those we encounter during our day?
We can also practice mercy by trying to put ourselves in the other persons’ shoes and see things from their point of view. Our political discourse in this country has all too often degenerated into diatribe. Can we practice the virtue of mercy, taking time to listen to the other, be patient with each other, and instead of quickly condemning, rather try to dialogue with the other? That is a lot more work, it is less emotionally satisfying than to know that we are in the right and the other side is all in the wrong, BUT it is much closer to the way God mercifully treats us.
Jesus tells us today in the Gospel: “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.”
This statement follows immediately after the command to be merciful, because the avoidance of judging and condemning is very close to being merciful.
Ultimately, this patience and trying to see things from the other’s point of view, leads to forgiveness. Jesus continues in His teaching, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” We need to forgive in order to become who we are destined to be, that is, children of God. Because God forgives us.
In our second reading today from St. Paul to the Corinthians, St Paul tells us: “The first man (Adam) was from the earth, earthly; the second man (Jesus), from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly.” ¿So which are we, earthly or heavenly??? St. Paul tells us, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.”
This means that we are a work in progress. We shall also bear the image of the heavenly person. But we are not fully there yet. We must all continue to work at it, opening ourselves to the transforming grace of Christ.
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” by being patient with others, slowing down the urge to immediately condemn, taking time to dialogue and listen to the other.
“For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” God bless!